The UK housing market is a “bubble on a bubble” – and property prices, reported this morning to average over £302,000, are over-valued by around 12%.
The ‘bubble’ warning comes from Societe General global strategist Albert Edwards, who says the bubble has been inflated by a decade of loose monetary policy and, in particular, Help to Buy.
Edwards said: “What you are doing is lending them [buyers of new-build homes] more money backed by the taxpayer to push up house prices even more.”
He said that while US house prices had corrected back to normal levels after the financial crisis of ten years ago, the UK housing market had become a “bubble on top of the previous bubble”.
He said that the housing bubble could burst in the next recession, which he believes would also wipe 80% off the value of equities and herald a new “ice age”.
Edwards, who works for the French bank in London, said that it was a damaging myth that it is a lack of supply that is causing the UK housing crisis.
He blamed the “free money” of Quantitative Easing and Help to Buy, which he told yesterday’s Telegraph had been implemented under “that moron” George Osborne.
Edwards said: “There’s a lot of stock there that could just be dumped on to the market. Nothing engenders selling more than falling prices.
Under Help to Buy, purchasers of new-build homes need put down only a 5% deposit, but can take out a 20% government loan to bring the total deposit to 25%. They are not charged fees on the loan for the first five years, but must then start paying interest. When the home is sold, the Government will reclaim its 20% stake plus a share of any increase in value.
Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund says that house prices in some of the world’s largest economies, including the UK, could be over-valued by as much as 12%, and separately this morning the Daily Telegraph’s front page story was a call to cut Stamp Duty “to end our housing disgrace”.
Boris Johnson said Theresa May should cut “absurdly high” Stamp Duty and abandon affordable housing targets that developers currently have to meet.
The LSL Acadata survey reported this morning that the average house price in England and Wales now stands at £302,251 after a tiny monthly fall of 0.2%.
The figure, for July, is still up 1.6% on an annual basis.
In London, the average property price is £625,529 with annual falls in 21 out of the 33 boroughs.
Transactions during the month were an estimated 75,000, 2% down on June. In the first seven months of this year, transactions are thought to be 4% down on the same period last year.
There was also a 7% drop in sales in the second quarter of this year.
- In today’s Telegraph, Boris Johnson says that the proportion of owner-occupiers aged between 25 and 34 has “plummeted to 39%”. However, the Halifax says that first-time buyers now represent 51% of the market and has also reported that Help to Buy has been a significant factor in the rise of first-time buyers – see our next story today.