Mending the Broken Runcorn and Halton Property Market
Thu 10 Oct 2019
The long-lasting issue of the Runcorn and Halton property market are laid bare as the final 2018 property transaction figures have just been published, and they continue the post-credit-crunch trend of less people moving.
37.6% less of Runcorn and Halton people are selling their homes annually since the credit crunch when compared to the post-millennium years of 2000 to 2005.
This is not just an issue of the Runcorn and Halton housing market slowing down since the credit crunch – the challenge is to split out shorter-term factors such as Brexit and the elections from longer-term structural issues of the UK society. When these most recent property transaction figures are seen against longer-term trends for Runcorn and Halton, they suggest more significant issues in the Runcorn and Halton housing market.
In the late 1990s, 1,461 properties were sold annually in the Runcorn and Halton area; then in the same area, the millennium boom saw transactions rise to 2,468 per annum. Property sales then, more than halved to 1,013 per annum in the challenge of the global financial crash and subsequent decrease of the mortgage market. Post credit crunch (2012 and beyond) locally, on average, 1,541 properties have sold annually.
While there was a recovery from 2013 onwards, it was rather uninspiring when compared to the pre-credit crunch years, with a lacklustre performance in property transactions since the mid-2010s.
You might ask why we should be concerned about the number of property transactions and not the change in property values?
The number of transaction numbers is a far more accurate bellwether for the health and potency of the local housing market.
As fewer people have been selling their homes locally, this is not only bad for the Runcorn and Halton housing market but for the economy locally, especially when you consider how many allied businesses (builders, decorators, solicitors, removal vans, estate agents, mortgage arrangers and other people) lose out as a result.
Some say the deficiency of supply of property, mainly affordable first-time buyer property, is the chief reason why transaction figures remain stubbornly low. Others suggest the absence of suitable housing stock up the property ladder (particularly bungalows for the older generation), combined with rising demand, is causing a bottleneck in our local housing market.
I know there has been much talk from Westminster about grand home-building programmes, yet we now require them to deliver on these undertakings, and even then, it will be a few decades before we see a seismic change in the Runcorn and Halton property market.
In the short-term, a quicker improvement may come from modifications to stamp duty. First-time buyers don’t need to pay stamp duty up to a certain level, yet those stamp duty concessions could be extended to those mature homeowners looking to downsize. This could liberate a meaningful number of mature family homes occupied principally by these mature generation and the tax lost through stamp duty could be replenished by a revaluation of the council tax bands?
Council tax bandings were set in 1991 and the seven bands, the highest band starts at £320,000 (based on 1991 values). It seems irrational to us that upper-value band, set in the 1991 revaluations, has not been increased, particularly as house prices in London have risen by over 400% in the last 25 years.
That would mean higher tax for those who don’t move, yet less tax for those that do move – because we believe it would boost a far more liquid Runcorn and Halton property market.
Just a thought for mending the local property market – what are your thoughts?