FEBRUARY 2017 PRESS ROUND-UP!
The long-awaited housing white paper was finally published this month with Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, saying there were various reasons for a delay between the house builder gaining planning permission and starting construction. Commenting in The Times, Jeremy Leaf, the principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, said: ‘In my 25-plus years experience in land and new homes, whatever the market and whatever the size of site we have never seen developers sit on land for no good reason. It is usually because services are not connected, such as drainage or broadband, which holds things up, rather than developers sitting on a site in order for it to gain value.’ Regarding plans to encourage older homeowners to downsize, Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Express: ‘Where are the specialist properties for them to move to? There are none. It is a great idea but why would they move if they have nowhere to move to?’
The Halifax reported that property values dropped in January compared with December. Jeremy Leaf told The BBC: ‘The figures show a broadly slowing market in response not just to seasonal but other factors, which we have also noticed in our offices. Worries about rising inflation and what this means for general living costs and interest rates, as well as stricter mortgage criteria and the focus on affordability, are having an impact on people’s decision-making.’
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics said in its rather more historic house-price survey that growth eased in December because of the fallout from the Brexit vote. Speaking to The Times, Jeremy Leaf commented: ‘These numbers bear out what we have seen in other recent surveys – that prices… are underpinned by a shortage of stock and a dearth of transaction activity.’
However, there was some good news with the Council of Mortgage Lenders reporting that there were more first-time buyers last year than in any year since 2007. Jeremy Leaf told The Mirror: ‘First-time buyers seem to have taken the place of buy-to-let investors in some places, as the latter suffer from more taxes and regulation.’ Jeremy expanded on these comments in What Mortgage: ‘These results represent good news for the government whose medicine may finally be working in their attempts to level the playing field between those trying to get onto the ladder and those very much on it.’