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Stuart Gregory: Don’t condemn Help to Buy because of London

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So here we are in 2014.
As I write this we are one week in to the new year and what a start we have seen.

Our business began trading in 2009 and the enquiries we have seen in the first week of 2014 were the highest we have experienced at the beginning of a year.

What has impressed me the most is the broad nature of the enquiries – there seems to be a continuation of the increased confidence that was seen in the market during 2013.

January should be the month when we begin to see the impact of Help to Buy 2 with more lenders joining the scheme. The desire is there for borrowers to take part, now it is down to the lenders to deliver on rates (and arrangement fees).

If you spend any time on Twitter, you will see varying reactions to data released by lenders on their house price indices.

From the all-out panic stations response (which always leads to me completing a Clive Dunn impression) to a shrug of the shoulders, Twitter always livens up whenever a lender releases their data.

Funnily enough, not many seem to take into account that it is only one lender’s data – before writing the headlines which send panic through some members of the coalition.

I am not trying to be flippant but here on the south coast, the feedback I am getting from local estate agents is that the rise in prices is more driven by lack of supply and increased demand. They simply have very little property coming onto the market.

It could be worthwhile for some national property commentators and MPs to note that there is a whole different world outside of London. Ask advisers in Blackpool if there is any sign of a ‘bubble’.

I do feel that there is a risk, not only of a bubble developing in some areas but also of a knee jerk reaction where the return of a stable functioning property market is undermined by quick decisions made by those with political ambitions.

I would love to see the mortgage market review mentioned more when there is talk of housing bubbles. Yes, it is complicated but the last property bubble was enhanced by reckless lending – which will not be repeated following the FCA’s review.

There are a couple of reasons why Help to Buy 2 is not as bad as it is painted by some. First, it has only just begun, mortgage lending is only one element to the housing issue and prices can always be increased by cash buyers and investors. 

Stuart Gregory is managing director of Lentune Mortgage Consultancy

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