According to reports in last week’s press, first time buyers are, “boxed in by rising prices” Anna Mihkailova, Sunday Times 22 September 2014 A suitably attention grabbing headline, but what exactly does it mean? The usual it transpires; people need to earn enough to be able to afford a mortgage. A revolutionary idea indeed. What did draw my attention, was a quote attributed to Matthew Pointon of the consultancy firm, Capital Economics who said, “The cooling for housing demand is particularly evident in the capital. We expect prices to have grown 18% this year and to rise 6% in 2015 – in line with growth in the UK as a whole” [sic] Fantastic news I thought, book me a one way ticket to Paddington; in fact, with 6% growth as the prize, I’ll start walking now. Let me break his despondent comment down:
1. His figures determine house price inflation over two years of 24% Fan-bloody-tastic. That averages out at 12% per annum. Fan-bloody-tastic x 2.
2. We have not seen a 12% annual rise in house prices in Wales since Take That were the original 5 piece outfit. (Jason, you traitor).
3. What figure would be indicative of the property market heating up, not cooling down?
On Wednesday, I was at a property that the owners had purchased exactly 50 years ago for the costly sum of £2000. It is being marketed half a century later for £200,000. Well done to them, but we are talking 12 Olympiads, 9 Prime Ministers, 13 World Cups and god knows how many farewell tours, comebacks and the definitive final gig (at The Pearly Gates) of Frank Sinatra, later. Of greater relevance than the abysmal record of our football team at international level, is that 50 years ago, house prices in London were about 3 times that of those in Wales. Back to Ms Mikhailova’s article, that states that in 2014 the average house price in Wales is £171,000 compared to the average house price in London of £514,000. That equates to, you’ve got it, the London Price is about three times the Welsh figure. For those fans of Tiger Bay’s finest, Shirl was right when she said, “History Repeating”.
What intrigues and irritates me in equal measure is why the hysteria? The sun will continue to rise in the east and set in the west, Alex Salmond will continue to pop up to grab his time in the glare of the media bulbs (whatever he stated last week about handing over the leadership of the SNP), I will continue to have to disappoint Miss Minogue that I am betrothed to another and the housing market will repeat the same trends over and over again.
A simple request, but can we not just get on with it, rather like the 91 year old gentleman who stole the show at this week’s Labour Party Conference? Admittedly the competition was more Conference than Premier League, but having seen it all before, before the era of social media and its insatiable need to have something to say (preferably overwrought and anguished), the war veteran said it as he saw it, without hysteria and grandstanding. His generation had to be the type that just got on with it, regardless of their political hue.