It is my firm belief that a healthy housing market underpins the wider economy.
Whilst the housing market suffers in recession, it is often seen as a symptom of financial weakness in the economy rather than a central plank in aiding its recovery.
Politicians say they understand this. Although none have really grasped the nettle since the sub prime crisis of 2008 and the resulting downturn. Tinkering around the edges and concentrating on incentives for new build homes is not enough.
Yesterday, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls MP talked about introducing a two year stamp duty holiday. This follows on from Government announcements over recent weeks to pour money into New Buy, the first time buyer assistance scheme; deposit funded mortgages and a more aggressive approach to identifying public land that can be developed for housing as well as freeing up the planning system. The coalition’s Lib Dem junior partners have also spoken of ‘allowing’ Mums and Dads to raid their pension funds in order to assist their offspring in purchasing a property. Using your own money to help your kids, in other words. We’re grateful for that gesture.
The aforementioned stamp duty holiday would be most welcome. But it is a small contribution to a market that needs much more stimulation and that not least requires sellers to be more realistic on price. Their estate agents too! Indeed some old fashioned honesty over asking prices would assist in tipping hundreds of thousands of over priced homes into the realms of being ‘buyer compatible’.
But it seems that the proposals from Mr Balls yesterday were not proposals at all. His statement was one that simply suggested that ‘this is what Labour would do right now’ if it were in power. There is no actual pledge, should Mr Miliband & Co win the general election in 2015, that they would move decisively to introduce a stamp duty holiday. So it’s all a bit slippery really. Disingenuous at best.
The politicos need to wake up to what the housing market needs. Whilst the housing industry and home owners need to do their bit and take a dose of reality and responsibility, our decision makers must stop spouting meaningless hot air in some fake competition to out do each other. They must literally put their money where their mouths are. Big money from big mouths, hopefully.
Those that do so will be responsible for lifting not just the housing market out of the doldrums but the UK economy too. Now that must be worth investing in?
Simply playing political football with such high stakes is an irresponsible game and conjures all sorts of analogies such as being relegated, falling foul, paying the penalty and so on.
In that vein, let us hope that the corridors of power might now properly champion the housing market. It’s of premier importance.