‘What will the Labour Government do for us?’ Here’s what to say…

With the Election decided, you may find yourself being asked by clients to explain the new Government's housing policies. Kate Faulkner points you in the right direction for the most reliable and relevant information.

An estate agent explaining to clientsW ith the Election decided, you may well be asked to comment on the Government’s housing policies in the first 100 days and beyond, as a local property expert.

Hopefully you will have something prepared, especially for your clients be they buyers, sellers, renters or investors. But, if not, here’s some of my top tips of what you could prepare for that eventuality.

I am giving these thoughts purely from a consumer perspective, which is what I believe will appeal to the media. You can then add your thoughts, making them relevant to your specific area and your views.

A great starting point is the stats from Zoopla and IPSOS this month. They highlight what voters feel the priorities should be on housing and reveal voters top priorities for the next government to tackle:

Zoopla list of policy priorities

Firstly, it’s worth highlighting to the media that over 1,000 adults were surveyed and that the data is IPSOS as it is a trusted source.

What local stats can you add to this data? Most of the things that the research has highlighted are monitored at a local level and some you can add your own data too, which brings a ‘local expertise’ to your commentary which is what the media are always keen to hear, especially at a local level.

Top consumer priorities

Affordable homes and homelessness – it’s estimated that at the moment there are over 112,000 households in temporary accommodation due a lack of affordable homes, sadly many of these households have children and a family living in one or two hotel rooms isn’t a great place for them to be.

In addition, it’s estimated that over a million households are on social housing waiting lists ie need an affordable home. Renting a social home is around half the rate of the private sector – due the huge difference of costs involved, not greedy landlords! Many of these have no choice but to find a home in the Private Rented Sector.

What are the stats for your local area?

You can go online and checkout what the temporary homes and waiting lists for housing are in your local area if you visit Homelessness in your area
For example, I’m originally from Nottingham and it’s my nearest big city. The number of homelessness on the streets for the last quarter in 2023 was 721.

Temporary accommodation for Nottingham, data from the last quarter available is Q1 2018 and records that 223 households are in temporary accommodation. It even breaks it down into bed and breakfast versus private rented accommodation and other types of housing.

However, as you can see these tables don’t always have the latest data, so I find a quick search online and the local news outlets often have the information you need.

A quick search online and the local news outlets often have the information you need.”

For Nottingham, Notts TV showed that for the area “There were 650 families in temporary accommodation in Nottingham at the end of January 24 – 143 of them in hotels.” The bill for this is now near £7m per year to accommodate them versus their £4m budget.

In addition “The council is working with more than 2,100 families who are either homeless or are in danger of being, according to the report going before the committee.”

Housing waiting lists from 2022 to 2023, in Nottingham there were 9,420 households on the list, up from 8,207 the year before.

Reducing the number of Empty Homes

For empty homes data, there is this site: https://www.actiononemptyhomes.org/ and according to them “There are nearly 700,000 homes in England that are unfurnished and standing empty. Over 261,000 of these are classed as ‘long-term empty’.“

And for Nottingham, the Evening Post suggests that there are 1,500 properties lying empty – so potentially enough to house those in temporary accommodation and indeed those that are homeless.

However, if you have ever dealt with bringing back empty homes to live in, it isn’t always as easy as suggested, it can be an extremely complex, time consuming task which can take several years, so its certainly not an instant fix. The properties also aren’t always in the right places, the right type or available at the rent someone on benefits can afford.

Any expertise you can add to how we could utilise empty homes to help house people though would no doubt be much appreciated.

Helping first time buyers on the ladder

The commentary for this, I feel, is often poor. Using stats such as the ‘average income versus average price’ or the average ‘deposit’ required is tens of thousands. The reality is this is where your expertise can really help and bring much needed reality to help more first time buyers on the ladder, rather than give them the impression there is no point even trying.

For example, the average price in Nottingham, according to the Land Registry (which is usually 30% lower than some of the other indices average prices) is £193,614. This average ranges from £143,397 for flats/maisonettes through to £322,636 for detached homes (see: https://landregistry.data.gov.uk/app/ukhpi/), so it’s not a true indicator of affordability for FTBs.

There are properties for sale in Nottingham that FTB can afford from under £100,000. And for those that would find this amount a struggle, there are shared ownership properties available from under £50,000 to just over £100,000.

Of course, it’s not so easy to help first time buyers in the likes of London, Bristol or Edinburgh, but it is possible to look at the policies the different parties have set out and talk about your views on what would help, whether it’s Help to Buy coming back, the First Homes scheme or a new “Freedom to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme”.

Controlling Rising Rents

Many people believe that if you ‘control’ rents, then this will help make renting affordable. Typically, from the research I have done, that’s backfired in places where it’s been implemented.

Take Scotland for example which according to the Office of National Statistics is seeing some of the highest rises in rents year on year following their efforts to control rents.

It’s one of the best discussions and evidence of why rent controls typically backfire.”

To find out more about the arguments against rent control, this podcast gives a really good independent explanation of the impact they can have and it’s a trusted source: Radio 4 Moneybox programme. Although recorded in 2017, I still think it’s one of the best discussions and evidence of why rent controls typically backfire.

For me, what we need to do to keep any rents or prices down is to help ensure we take the 1mn + households that are eligible for a social home out of the PRS, alleviating the pressure on the private sector and for many FTBs.

However, you know your area best and I look forward to hearing your commentary and views post the election on what you think the new government needs to do to fix the key problems buyers, sellers and renters have in your local area.

What's your opinion?

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