Firstly, why, having returned from my er, ‘training camp’ in Ibiza, my suits all seem to have shrunk… Whilst contemplating this conundrum-aided by a cup of tea and a piece of cake- I found myself facing a second puzzlement. Why are house prices continuing to reach stratospheric levels-if the media are to be believed-whilst the mortgage screw is being tightened? An article this week penned by Louise Eccles in the Property Section of the Daily Mail detailed how the Bank of England (BOE) are prepared to step in if the amount of debt incurred through peo0le borrowing through mortgages continues to grow to the size of Piers Morgan’s ego. The BOE have already imposed a cap on lenders to ensure that “no more than 15 per cent of its home loans were for sums greater than 4.5 times people’s incomes.. ” [sic] Daily Mail 3 July 2015 This is all very sensible, but from our daily experience of the species of mortgage brokers, we are continually finding that lenders are looking for any reason not to loan, never mind offer a seemingly excessive amount. As a result, many genuine prospective buyers are being refused mortgages. Taking this as a ‘driver’ (get me with my corporate speak, soon I will be indulging in some ‘blue sky thinking’…), I cannot understand how house prices are ‘rocketing’, ‘soaring’ and any other aviation inspired verb that the journalist chooses. In the same article, it was commented upon how house prices have risen sharply during the past 12 months amidst a, “chronic housing shortage”. Casting a wearied eye back to 2007 and 2008, house building was at the same levels as today, but nobody was beating their chest urging house builders to slow down their output in order to either create an increase in prices or at least slow down the price crash. Yes, property prices can sometimes be linked to the simple dynamic of supply and demand, but it is overly simplistic to say that rising prices are due to a lack of stock, when stock levels are the same as they were at the time of the last collapse. The main driver (see, there I go again..) is the confidence of and in the UK economy.
What was presented as a novel idea this week was that being pushed by the newest kid on the block, YouSpotThe Property.com The clue is in the title; get someone else to find a property for you. In this case, it is Joe Public finding properties for the agent to market. Whilst walking, jogging, kerb-crawling (that was a joke, Officer), members of the public are encouraged to note any properties that they think are abandoned and report them to the gang at the aforementioned company. The latter will then attempt to track down the owner, purchase the property, upgrade it and then put it on the market. A successful sale will deliver 1 per cent of the sale price to the eagle-eyed finder. According to the website, this sourcing of deserted dwellings will mean that, “abandoned properties are put back to use, creating homes that contribute to rather than spoil their local community”. Ah, that’s nice. They are driven by charitable endeavour rather than hard-nosed commercialism. Of course they are. It does seem like a very plausible scheme that should work in the Capital. I would be less sure of its success in Varteg. Many properties do indeed look abandoned, but have a couple with 18 offspring living in them. “We are led to believe that your property is derelict” would be met with the Varteg version of, “Go forth and multiply, you £$%&”. For comedic value and/or to check one’s fitness levels whilst running for your car it might be of some value.