What and who is driving the property market this spring?
In property there are top-down people and bottom-up people. The top-down people seem to believe that wealthy overseas buyers and those spending their city bonuses drive the property market - or that is certainly how it seems if one reads the national press.
On the other hand the more rarely heard bottom-up people think that first time buyers drive the market. They think that first time buyers breed second-time buyers and so on. They think market entrants kick-start the chain of events that gives momentum to the market as a whole.
But whatever one believes there is little doubt that most of the action in the market right now is being propelled from below rather than above.
Last year first time buyer numbers across the UK reached the highest level for ten years. This was helped by the government’s stamp duty cut, help-to-buy programme and lower deposit and cheaper mortgage deals. It was also helped by less competition as for some years a big impediment to first-time buyers purchasing a property has been buy-to-let, cash investors. But some crucial tax measures have put this sector into neutral for the time being at least, and helped make welcome room for those who have reached the stage of buying a home of their own.
The property market shouldn’t really be a roller-coaster-ride influenced by tax measures and financial instruments. Nor should it be dominated by those who treat housing as a commodity. There should be balance and space for those who first and foremost seek a home for themselves and their families. And there should be a healthy rental market for those who choose not to buy.
For the time being at least we will enjoy a bottom-up market. We should make the most of it. We have learnt that it only takes an ill-considered single tax measure by the government of the day to upset the balance.
So bottoms up to those who seize this fine market opportunity to buy a home this spring.