Jamie Bartholomew Director for Century Residential reflects on last weeks election and the impact that it could have on the housing market.
It’s nearly a week since the shock news that there is a hung parliament with no party winning the required 326 seats to form a majority. Clearly the decision to call a snap general election has backfired with the original 15 percentage point margin between the two major parties in polls materialising as just a 3-percentage point margin.
There will be a period of uncertainty as the new government forms. We have a good idea of what a Conservative minority government may look like for the housing sector from analysing their manifesto and previous commitments.
At a time when instructions are scarce, fees are at an all-time low, conveyancing is taking longer than ever, and tenant fees are to be banned, the housing sector needs a government that understands the housing crisis and it needs to be a priority.
What should we expect from Teresa May and the Conservatives as the largest party in the House of Commons in the housing sector?
In a recent report it was alleged that a higher percentage of homeowners thought that the Tories policies were more relevant and sympathetic to homeowners, but do sales and lettings agents working in that sector feel the same?
Interestingly, I would be unsure how that debate would conclude, as recent changes to SDLT and proposed changes to lettings agents charging tenant fees, have been very unpopular.
So what should we all expect in the next four years?
It is very unlikely that the government will amend or reverse changes to Stamp Duty, why would they? It is raising extra income for the treasury. It is also cooling the UK housing market and reducing transactions levels enabling first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder.
The proposed tenant fee ban concluded its consultation process on the 2nd June and the outcome will be delivered shortly. I don’t expect any change in direction. The ban has already been implemented in Scotland and Wales and so it appears a foregone conclusion.
But the real elephant in the room is the announcement within the Tory party manifesto that they intend to hold a full housing review, with particular emphasis on the cost of moving. They intend to make it cheaper for customers. Although in the short term this may be sidelined by other priorities, at some point this pledge will be delivered.
Is there a vendetta against our sector? Or will the Conservatives be considered a party that estate agencies can rely on to produce policies for growth?
None of us know the answer to that. All I do know is that when the housing minister is appointed they need to get a holistic view of the challenges facing the UK housing market from the agent’s perspective.