Ten years’ ago I wasn’t working for My Home Move, in fact I was half way through my tenure as CEO for a business loans provider located in Manchester. It was 2007 and life was good, and then it wasn’t. It didn’t matter which business you were in or where in the country you lived, 2007 changed things forever.
Thinking back, these were the days when Blackberry and Nokia were the kings of mobile phones. Apple had just released its first iPhone, Amazon its Kindle and I used to carry a briefcase to work.
The property market was booming as one bedroom flats in outer London sold for four and a half times the salaries of first-time buyers on interest only mortgages. Everything seemed to be on the up. But then on 14th September 2007, the bubble officially burst as Northern Rock collapsed. In the following days and weeks the economy was shaken. RBS had to be bailed out and Lehman Brothers was to be no more. Confidence had gone.
Fast-forward ten years and the confidence has slowly returned. But with first-time buyers struggling to access the market, second steppers using the Bank of Mum and Dad to fund their next home move and downsizers choosing to stay put, due to a lack of alternative housing, a question keeps circulating round my head. Do we need further intervention to get the market moving? Or does regulation kill the very essence of supply and demand?
There are times when legislation and regulation is the right thing to do – the Mortgage Market Review now ensures individuals are able to afford their debt, safeguarding them from interest-rate hikes. And then there are times when it feels like it goes too far – the introduction of Home Information Pack was cumbersome and costly, despite being hailed as the one thing which would streamline the home buying process. Scrapped just three years after its launch, the Home Information Pack was blamed for sellers refusing to list their properties at all.
An anniversary gets you thinking. I never want to see a scenario like 2007 again, where 35,000 mortgaged home owners saw their properties repossessed in the 12 months that followed.* So essentially, I guess what I am saying is that yes I welcome regulation, so long as it protects the market as a whole and is in the best interests of all home movers – because ultimately, it’s on their confidence that we all rely.
*Source: Shelter/Ministry of Justice – 2008