2nd Aug 2016

Facts and Fiction; current housing myths

Post Brexit, there has been a lot of rumblings about the housing market. Mostly doom.

The headline news today (2 August 2016) is that home ownership has fallen to 63.8%.  Which is about what it was in 1986 when a certain great law firm was born…Reading the newspaper I picked up at the train station this morning, their front page headline was “Millions robbed of the chance to own their own home”. Not at all sensationalist then. BBC radio etc. was reporting it in similarly negative terms, if not quite so dramatic. 

I was talking with a property consultant only last week about how we effectively broadcast, report and talk ourselves into recession and into troubled housing markets. It’s complicated, I know, but headlines that say it’s all doom and gloom tend to lead only to one thing: doom and gloom.

So let’s look at some facts.  The highest level of home ownership recorded was only 71%, so the fall isn’t massive. And the fall certainly isn’t all down to ‘the B word’; ownership has been in gradual decline since about the time of the last recession.

Also, let’s remember that the clamour for house-ownership is cultural. Our friends on the continent just don’t own houses, by and large.  Good to hear much more neutral reporting of this and sharing some of my sentiments from Stephen Clarke at the Resolution Foundation.  Read his take here.

And the evidence in Harrogate is that the housing market is strong; demand outstrips supply often. And the evidence nationally is that lenders are still lending. Speak with those working in these areas in your locality. What is the truth of it? 

What is to be done? Keep calm and …

-          carry on buying?

-          carry on renting?

We can’t change the housing market overnight and perhaps not even in the next government or in the next decade. What will be will be. I’d just be glad if we took a bit more care in how we write about it, avoiding generalisations and negativity. Unless we want those headlines to become a reality.

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