Is the housing market turning?


Some time ago I penned a short article on what causes the turning points in the residential market and how they are generally "black swans" - the unpredicted and largely unpredictable external factors such as oil price driven recession or political changes.

Rather than leave the housing market to operate on the same economic basis as the remainder of the economy the government is tweaking the tax treatment of property to separate it out from the remainder of their fiscal strategy.  This is exactly the sort of political decision that can trigger a huge overreaction if it is not perfectly judged.

Right now as a buy to let investor myself my tax position is markedly worse than that of Land Securities and the lending criteria are stricter and while I understand the thinking I believe it will be some time before we fully appreciate the effect.

Implementing fiscal change is often likened to pulling a brick towards you with a piece of elastic.  For some time the brick stays put and the elastic stretches.  Then suddenly the brick moves and the pent up energy in the elastic is released dragging the brick straight at your face.

If George Osborne has got this right then the additional demand from buy to let will be cooled but not stopped entirely.  If he has got it wrong and the elastic is too strong it won't just be buy to let investors with broken noses.

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London’s housing market is facing a “major shock” as private landlords offload properties because tax increases will reduce returns on their investments to near zero, according to analysts at Deutsche Bank AG.New lending rules will also severely restrict the ability of investors, who have accounted for about 40 percent of purchases in recent years, to fund property purchases with debt, Deutsche Bank analysts Oliver Reiff and Markus Scheufler wrote in a report Wednesday. Landlords selling homes may create an excess of properties on the market, damping prices.
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