As housing is one of the big topics in this general election, we thought it would be interesting to summarise the manifestos of the major political parties.
We’re not naïve enough to believe any of the parties will deliver on all their promises but this makes for interesting reading. Traditionally, the property industry has a strong dislike for any form of Government intervention. Whilst this paranoia isn’t always justified, from experience the industry knows there are always unintended consequences.
Of concern is the suggestion by some parties they will target, REITS, investment funds and private individuals/landlords through a combination of measures. Whilst we get this group represents a faceless and populist target, it appears there’s a lack of realpolitik.
The private sector has, in the absence of the Government, stepped in to provide both social and private housing. Of the almost 75,000 housing units constructed across the country between 2014 and the end of 2019, only 5.9% were built by the local authorities and a further 4.1% built by approved housing bodies and 3.4% from Part V. In truth, much of the money which invests in this sector comes directly or indirectly from overseas funds and is very transient, that is to say, it can as easily be invested in Iceland as Ireland. Changing an already understood legal and taxation framework is likely to unnerve overseas investors (and their money). Similarly, for private landlords, further changes, in the context of suggested rent freezes or amending their right to get possession of properties is likely to force more of them out of the market. In our business, we know that for every investor who buys a property from us, 2 investors sell.
We are not blind to the real issues of housing and homelessness which affect thousands of people across the country every day. Nor are we cheerleaders for funds or landlords. Instead we’d like to see a functioning housing market for everyone. In our view, supply led solutions for both buyers and renters is where Government’s focus should be. Increasing commercial stamp duty rates or limiting funds to building in certain locations does nothing to increase supply. Similarly, while we support measure that assist buyers, solutions that don’t lead to price inflation are preferable.