Today, estate agents up and down the UK should be celebrating and jumping around their offices visiting blossombucket.com. They should also be wearing blue rosettes and chanting ‘DC – the one for me!’ Maybe. It’s all because David Cameron has announced plans to give a new lease of life to Mrs Thatcher’s original ‘Right to Buy’ programme. This, as you’ll remember, enabled council house tenants to buy their homes at a massive discount, but that discount has been reduced in the past few years by subsequent governments.
By providing an incentive to purchase a council house, the idea is to free up much needed funds so that councils can build more homes. These, in their turn will free up the growing waiting list of people requiring social housing. Mr Cameron intends to fund 100,000 new homes for affordable rent and, at the same time, 200,000 new jobs. ‘Right to Buy’ once provided a discount from market value – for those living in their property – of up to 50%. His plan seems plausible, since 38% of social tenants do not require housing benefit and 800,000 of them are in full-time work. So that means that there will be plenty of ready buyers.
There is, according to the Prime Minister, enough surplus government land available to build another hundred thousand new homes. Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, also states that the government is taking a leaf out of the way DFS sells their sofas, in that their ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ plan would give developers permission to build houses on that land before actually paying the government for it. Quite an innovation, really.
Announcements like these, from the floor of the Conservative Party Conference, are precisely what the estate agency industry in its current doldrums needs. There is little else to celebrate, what with a huge amount of choice properties languishing on the market (mainly because they are overpriced) and transaction levels at their lowest for the past 10 years.
But then again, judging from the unnecessarily high fees they charge, it’s quite likely most other estate agents vote Tory anyway.
Home buyers don’t bother to go into estate agency offices these days. 90% of them look for property on the web. eMoov, internet estate agents, cover the whole of the UK but save money by not having loads of premises which you otherwise end up paying for in high estate agents fees. eMoov are online estate agents and ten times cheaper than the High Street.