MS Leader: Market woes fall on deaf ears

With the Stamp Duty holiday dead and buried, the country in recession and the dark cloud emanating from Europe getting bigger on a daily basis, the gloomy housing figures for April published last week were hardly a surprise.

Data from e.surv’s Mortgage Monitor showed loans on a typical first-time buyer property worth up to £125,000 fell to 11,307 in April, 5% lower than in March and 1.2% down on April last year.

The number of loans to borrowers with a deposit of 15% or under fell to 5,309, well below the three-month average of 6,229.

This was backed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ April data which shows transaction levels entered negative territory in April for the first time since September 2011, with 6% more surveyors seeing decreases rather than increases.

Many in the market have implored the government to take further action to stimulate the housing market but it’s patently not listening. That was certainly the main complaint at an industry dinner last week.

One intermediary firm with a nationwide presence didn’t even get a signed photograph when they attempted to get in touch with housing minister Grant Shapps. Everyone else at the table, all of whom represented large firms, told of a similar experience in trying to communicate with the government.

And its lack of engagement with the market is clearly evident in its policy towards housing. In the book Chavs by Owen Jones, Labour MP and former secretary for communities and local government Hazel Blears admitted that no-one in the previous Labour government had been interested enough in housing. Sadly this attitude continues in the coalition.