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What Does the General Election Mean for Property?

18th May 2017

Today, Head of Lettings at Rightmove, Sam Mitchell discusses the upcoming General Election and what it could mean for the housing market.

Traditional wisdom dictates that whenever there is a General Election the world stops for 3 months. We have seen this pattern at every General Election I have seen in my time in property. Generally, it will have been 5 years since the last election and the economy pauses as we wait for the country to go to the polls. Traditionally the lead up to an election is fascinating for those who enjoy politics but really rather tiresome for those who rely on the property market for their living, and indeed those who want to get on and move house. The people of the UK generally sit on their hands and wait until the whole charade is over.

However, we are not living in traditional times. This does not feel like business as usual. We appear to be witnessing election fatigue. The calling of the General Election appears to have elicited a collective yawn and it was hard not to empathise with Brenda from Bristol’s oft-quoted “What? Another one!?”

This reaction is understandable given that we had a huge election in 2014 with the Scottish Referendum, a huge election in 2015 with the General Election, a huge election in 2016 with the European referendum, and now a huge election with the General Election in 2017. It is hardly surprising that most people seem to be realising that just because there is an election the world does not stop turning. There is an air of business as usual and people getting on with their lives.   

This could prove good news for the housing market as people realise that if you need to move, then you need to move, and you might as well get on with it. This is evidenced by the fact that we are seeing record asking prices on Rightmove and high levels of property for sale and rent. We have well over 1m properties on site so the British fascination with property seems alive and well.

We wait to see the housing policies that will be espoused in the manifestos but I think we can safely predict that all the parties will claim that they are going to build the millions of homes required to address the long-term housing supply issue. They will also tell us how important housing is as an issue. However, the fact that we have seen 14 housing ministers since 1997 compared to 5 Prime Ministers rather undermines this sentiment.

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