How we could Stimulate the Housing Supply

Fri, 23 May 2014

How we could Stimulate the Housing Supply
Savills, the estate agent, has warned of the lack of homes being built.

The shortage of new homes is causing a housing crisis, according to Savills, the most recent group to raise the alarm.

They estimated the shortfall of homes in the UK will reach 160,000 in the next few years. This comes after the Bank of England warned of "deep structural problems" within the housing market.

The Guardian has reported on some of the ways that the housing market could be streamlined in order to aid the supply of homes. If demand could be met, then there would be little problem, but it is easier to raise demand, through things such as the Help to Buy scheme which has controversially boosted the demand.

Apparently 185,000 homes are stuck in the pre-build stage where developers have to meet a certain amount of conditions with the plans, before submitting them. It is taking a long time to get permission finalised, and this holds up the market.

Local councils have fallen slack on building social and affordable housing. Susan Emmett, a researcher at Savills, said "Local authorities need to do a better job of estimating demand and planning for it."

One problem they have though is the restriction of building on greenbelt land. Currently, only 2% of land in England is built on, whereas 13% is designated greenbelt.

"Since local authorities ceased to be significant builders in their own right, we have not built enough homes to satisfy demand in England. Housing associations now supply most of our affordable homes, but have never made up the gap." This was written in a report by Shelter, the housing charity in which they called for councils to be given more freedom to borrow money to build more. According to them, local councils could build up to 12,000 homes nationwide if their current cap was raised by £7bn.

Furthermore, according to Shelter, the smaller end of the house builder trade is in decline. Since the crash of 2008, the number of builders producing fewer than 30 units a year has declined by 50%. The problem is that it is harder for smaller building firms to build houses singly, or in small amounts, as lots are usually sold for large numbers of houses to be built on. If smaller builders were given access to credit, this area of the market could be stimulated and, altogether, the amount of houses built by the small builders would be significant.

The last point on the Guardian's report regards the Help to Buy schemes. Developers say that the Help to Buy Equity Loan has been driving both supply and demand, and has been stimulating the market and feeding it. It has had a large part to play in bringing buyers back to the market. However the benefits of the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme though is more dubious.
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