October 17, 2008
The British model for the finance of home ownership has been validated despite the ongoing turmoil within the market, according to economist Mark Boleat when he spoke this week to guests of The Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors and The College of Estate Management on the extraordinary changes in the British Housing Market over the last 12 months.
The lecture, held at ‘The City Marketing Suite’, Guildhall, London updated the audience on Boleat’s report “Housing Development and Housing Finance in Britain”, which was first published in January (2008) with a recent paper which reflected on the many changes in the market since the report’s initial publication.
“With hindsight this was not a good time to publish a comprehensive description of the British housing and finance system, aimed at an international audience” admits Boleat, but adds: “It is now even more important that we stand back from the current turmoil in the markets to examine the big picture and to challenge the premise that the British model, of mortgage lending largely funded by retail deposits, is still valid?”
Boleat considered the difference between the current market downturn and the last housing recession of the early nineties, highlighting the emergence of the buy-to-let sector and the changes that the typical mortgage product has undergone since then as important factors. Traditionally mortgages in Britain had been at variable rates that broadly tracked the money market rates, whereas today the main product is a two year fixed rate loan.
A further factor that Boleat felt would impact on the market is the change in the mix of properties being developed. The rise in popularity of apartment buildings has increased the risks for builders and developers as they cannot be phased in the way that a traditional family house development can be and Boleat suggested that some apartment blocks will become property horror stories.
Boleat also suggested that whilst the current downturn may reach its lowest point in 2009 there will not be a speedy recovery and predicts a trough that will last up to two years.
In summary he comments: “The British housing finance model is alive and well. It will be battered and bruised by the current financial crisis, which is having wide ranging repercussions that could never have been forseen.”
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