Housing market renewal pathfinder produces analysis of property sales that casts doubt on how healthy market is

On the mend: Houses are selling in Liverpool
On the mend: Houses are selling in Liverpool

Liverpool’s housing market renewal pathfinder has hit back at claims that rising house prices make its work unnecessary, arguing that the increases have been driven by speculative buying for short-term gain and are not sustainable.

The NewHeartlands pathfinder had been criticised by residents and the national press over its plans to demolish the Welsh Streets in Toxteth, including the birthplace of former Beatle Ringo Starr.

Those opposed to the demolitions argued that as the price of the stock had been rising, and as the objective of the pathfinder was to increase property values, its work was unnecessary.

The pathfinder has now rejected this argument, arguing that the increase in prices is a byproduct of speculative buying, which would not have occurred without the pathfinder. It has issued a report to substantiate this claim.

Pauline Davis, NewHeartlands’ managing director, said that this study indicated that speculation rather than a long-term recovery in demand was driving the rise in prices.

She said: “This report confirms what we have suspected for some time. Speculators have no intention of investing in the property or the neighbourhood and don’t care about the properties and the people who live there. They drive up prices and distort the market in the short term but there is still no long-term demand.”

Its analysis of 20,000 properties on Liverpool’s Land Registry records between January 2003 and June 2005 shows that homes in the renewal zone are twice as likely to be resold within six months as those in other areas.

About one in 20 properties in the renewal area were resold in less than six months, compared with 2.2% in the rest of the city. The housing market renewal area accounted for 65% of such quick resales in the city.

The proportion of properties that remained vacant for three months or more after sale was also higher in the pathfinders’ four “zones of opportunity”, which have been targeted for additional investment.