It's up to the government to reboot the housing market – before everything totally falls apart
Here's a bright idea for the government (so it'll obviously get ignored) - why not provide some sort of tax relief on mortgages for first-time buyers?
Alan Cherry, chairman of Countryside Properties and a veteran of the great housing collapses of the seventies and nineties, is convinced that this is what must be introduced to reboot the market.
This must be right: this is not Spain or the US, where there is the rotten combination of oversupply of housing and lack of demand. We all know the UK is crying out for more houses and that an average wage earner finds it desperately difficult to get onto the housing ladder. People want to buy houses – they just can't find the money to do so.
People want to buy houses – they just can't find the money to do so
Several senior bankers and corporate advisers have echoed this sentiment, stating that it is up to the government to kickstart the housing market. It could be argued that the problems are the private sector's, and given that the market is supposedly king, why should the government intervene and bail it out?
Well, it is the government that wants to rebalance the established supply and demand pattern of the housing market. By demanding 240,000 additional homes a year - and by being biased towards granting planning permission to dense, apartment-filled schemes - it has already intervened.
If the government wants that market intervention to ultimately work, it must act now before the housebuilding industry completely falls apart.
It took the industry years to recover from those last two recessions. This housing crash is much more violent
As Cherry will tell you, it took the industry years to recover from those last two recessions. This housing crash is sharper, much more violent, and many times more unexpected in its speed than were its predecessors.
And, it could take many, many years longer to recover.
Mark Leftly works on the business desk of the Independent on Sunday. Construction and commercial property are two of the beats he covers on the newspaper. Mark's views should not be confused as being those of the Independent on Sunday.