Housing policy was a hotly contested area of debate in the recent election, with all parties highlighting the lack of affordable housing in the UK. So, what are the challenges now facing the new Conservative government, and what does their victory mean for the housing market, particularly in London?
In their manifesto, the Conservatives committed to building 200,000 new homes a year across England, aimed squarely at first-time buyers aged under 40. While this would be a major improvement on the current rate of building, whatever percentage of those houses are built around London, it is still going to fall well short of delivering the 800,000 houses London local authorities believe are needed by 2021.
A Conservative commitment
Because, when you strip it back, the current woes for first-time buyers and generation rent in London are largely the result of demand hugely outstripping supply. The other Conservative pledges, including a 20% discount on the new builds, and new Help-to-Buy ISAs, will not in themselves have a massive impact, particularly if prices continue to rise anything near current rates.
In terms of their building programme, the Conservatives have also placed a major restriction on themselves, committing to leaving the greenbelt untouched until at least 2020. This means, both in London and across the UK, all housebuilding will be concentrated on brownfield land.
There's nothing impossible or illogical about that, and there's a further manifesto pledge for a £1bn brownfield regeneration fund to unlock sites for 400,000 homes. But given recent governments' poor record of delivering on housing promises, it's one more reason to temper optimism for those caught in London's property squeeze.
The reality is that for first-time buyers and renters in London, there's unlikely to be any dramatic change in the near future. Which is why, if you're looking to buy or rent, external factors, like government policy and the state of the housing market are not where your focus is likely to be. Where it should be is on the things you can do to maximise your money, and one of those is the kind of estate agent you choose.
People should ask: why so much money?
Because a new breed of lettings and sales agencies are alive to the fact that the current situation is not sustainable. And with the technological advances we take for granted in most areas of our lives, it's a wonder more people aren't asking why the actual selling, buying, letting or renting of a property should be such an expensive and cumbersome experience.
We started SellMyHome and RentMyHome specifically with the needs of a new tech-savvy generation in mind, for whom moving home is a fact of London life. They are looking for a simple, professional service with costs they can clearly identify, understand and control.
That's why, as interesting and important it is to keep an eye on the big picture of how government can make London an easier place to live in, for the moment, all our effort is going into making our little part of it work better right now.
Stay tuned for more from Will on the SellMyHome blog. You can read more insights on the property on the RentMyHome.co.uk Blog.
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