Shortage of homes could save UK from market crash

Shortage of homes could save UK from market crash

Anyone fearing a Brexit- induced house-market crash in the UK would do well to remember one simple fact: The country isn’t even close to keeping up with demand for new homes.

While a sharp drop in their shares during the week showed that homebuilders aren’t immune to uncertainty over the UK’s economic future, figures released the same day may be more important.

They show that construction continues to lag behind the UK government’s targets, suggesting that a failure to meet demand will buoy the market for some time to come.

UK homebuilders edged lower yesterday.

The three of the biggest companies in the British industry — Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, and Barratt Developments — had all fallen by more than 7% on the previous day.

The shares are still trading, however, above the lows reached in 2016.

“We can’t ignore there are some headwinds caused by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit,” said Grainne Gilmore, head of residential research at broker Knight Frank.

However, “the mismatch between supply and demand in many parts of the country — particularly in urban areas — will continue to be one of the factors underpinning home prices in the UK,” she said.

Limited access to land, increasing construction costs, and a slow planning process mean that homebuilders have failed to deliver enough properties for at least a decade.

To address the problem, the British government last year announced an annual target of 300,000 homes.

Yet neither developers nor organisations such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors believe that’s achievable.

So far, they’ve been proved right.

During the week, the UK Housing Ministry reported annual delivery of 222,190 net additions to the UK’s stock of homes during the 12 months through April.

That’s only a slight improvement on the previous year.

The problem is especially acute in London, where net additions fell about 20% from a year ago to 31,723 units, less than half the 65,000 units pledged by mayor Sadiq Khan in his effort to convince voters he could solve the city’s chronic housing shortage.

Home prices in the capital have risen by almost two thirds over the past decade, according to data from the UK Office for National Statistics.

The average rent, meanwhile, stands at £1,619 (€1,839), compared with an average of £768 (€872) in the rest of the UK.

- Bloomberg

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