We are heading towards a degree of consensus regarding at least one part of the mess that is the UK’s housing system. Pretty much everyone agrees that there needs to be a significant increase in the supply of new properties. Some have arrived at this view from the perspective of the potential positive impact it could have on macroeconomic performance and national infrastructure. Others would seek to highlight that some of the problematic characteristics of the housing market flow from poor housing supply response.
There isn’t quite so much agreement on the solution. The Government gives the appearance of believing that it’s doing enough to deal with the problem. Almost everyone else thinks that more could, and should, be done. Many believe that more far-reaching structural reform is necessary.
One of the Government’s key innovations has been the NewBuy scheme, which provides guarantees that allow purchasers to access 95% loans on new properties. The principle behind this scheme has been roundly criticised by many commentators and academics because it artificially supports prices when what is needed to restore affordability is more price deflation. But, leaving aside problems with the underlying principle, the scheme is now up and running so we might ask whether, in its own terms, it is working. Here again there is a divergence of opinion. Continue Reading →