Sunday Evening Thoughts on UK Housing.
I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable weekend in the sun.
I’ve had a thought that I hope will help people on any side of the debate (or anyone thinking of moving who’s just confused) to understand what is happening.
The term “house prices” is like the word “love”: it has countless different meanings and is constantly misunderstood and misused.
It’s also abused, deliberately, for manipulation purposes (anyone ever done something for love that they later found out didn’t exist?).
“House prices are still going up, according to Rightmove!” proclaim many estate agency email marketing newsletters, even when they know that Land Registry figures show actual prices falling.
We shouldn’t be surprised.
In a changing, difficult and uncertain market, there are many people fearful for their livelihoods, genuinely frightened, not knowing how they are going to pay the bills if they can’t keep the deals flowing, who will say things out of desperation, not malice, to try to keep the lights on. This is human nature and understandable.
Estate agents as a whole are not responsible for anything that happens in the housing market.
Neither are mortgage brokers.
They are there to make a living by meeting the demand for those services. Yes, many of them do it badly, dishonestly and disingenuously, but no more or less than any other industry where you get bad eggs. It’s just that when it comes to home moves and personal finances, people get far more upset when they are let down than when a plumber rips you off for a dodgy job.
No. The housing market health (or lack of it) and pricing, is a direct result of decisions made by policy makers.
1. Government: Help to Buy, Stamp Duty, tax incentives (or the reverse) and changing housing legislation eg EPC rules, Renters Reform Bill etc.
2. Mortgage Lender policies and products.
3. But most of all, every individual buyer or seller’s decision to buy or sell. They decide the prices at a granular level, which collectively make up the entire market.
No one can lay the blame for any of this at the door of mortgage brokers or estate agents. They are facilitators.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some shocking shit happening among some agents and brokers, but that’s a separate matter.
The media makes it’s money dividing us, intentionally or not. All the social media algorithms are designed to maximise reaction, so inflammatory accusations and blame stories do very nicely thanks very much.
We must rise above that. As times get harder, we must stop taking it out on each other, and realise that in difficulty, cooperating as a community helps everyone.
It’s not that journalists are out to divide us, I don’t think they are, on the whole (with exceptions).
It’s that they have deadlines and targets, a job to do that they are expected to deliver results for, and an editor to please, who in turn has shareholders breathing down their neck. (It’s always the shareholders.)
My mission is helping people who need to move. Movers. And fighting among each other is counter-productive to that.
I’ve never found that blame achieves anything, ever, other than to make angry people feel momentarily better until they find the next person to blame for something.
What’s your point, Charlie?
Minds need changing. Especially the minds of people who are in a position of any influence, even just locally, but especially people in positions of major influence (yes Andrew Harvey, Senior Economist at Nationwide) for casually making remarks that will directly influence people’s decisions.
Whether it’s “the worst of the falls are behind us” with no data to back it up (abuse of position and trust) or “we think the market will only fall 2% more” but with zero explanation, my campaign is to challenge the most influential people making throw-away comments which will be seized upon by the trade to say “See? He said it’s fine!” to persuade people to close deals that they otherwise wouldn’t close.
So, when I confront the people with the power to make casual statements that will potentially change people’s minds, I’m not blaming them for anything, and it’s never a personal attack.
I’m confronting their statement itself.
I’m confronting the abuse of power.
I’m confronting the naivety so they think twice before repeating such unsubstantiated yet pivotal remarks.
Because those remarks can cause harm. Real harm, to real lives.
I am going to encourage everyone to confront guff in a constructive, firm and not personal way. I’ve started using the hashtag #stoptheguff which I encourage you to use when you encounter it.
For as long as I’ve been involved in the moving industry (nearly 30 years) the storyline from the vested interest companies has gone completely unchallenged.
Today, social media gives us the chance to challenge it in such a way that it will have an impact.
But don’t be personal. Don’t be angry. Don’t avoidably get people’s backs up, because then they just get angry back at you personally and the whole point is missed.
Challenge the guff, challenge the companies or people putting it out. Do it with kindness and compassion, because that way it will work faster and won’t descend into a pointless, ego-battle brawl.
The outcome is the only thing that matters.
So, to wrap up:
More than a year after I began calling out that house prices would start to fall, I have still yet to have a single coherent, reasoned, mathematical counter argument to mine.
House prices have fallen significantly already. (I will say that when the Land Reg announces August ave ‘actual’ prices, which will be for deals agreed about now, they will be around 10% off the 2022 highs).
As we enter the 2nd year of price falls, they will slide more steeply. Then around Jun 2024, the slide will slow down to a gentle fall for another 12 months or so.
Barring massive unannounced market intervention, nothing can stop this from happening. It’s mathematical gravity.
We need to spread the word to help people make more informed decisions about moving. Stop the Guff.
Have a peaceful Sunday night, sleep well. See you on the next videos.
Sunday Evening Thoughts on UK Housing.