As the nation waits with bated breath to see if Theresa May can form either a minority or coalition government after her snap general election gamble spectacularly backfired, the property industry has started to react to what has been an extraordinary night, resulting in a hung parliament.
While under Theresa May, the UK may have some political continuity, there is no doubting the fact that a coalition government provides the economy with less stability and it is this short-term uncertainty that Adam Challis, head of residential research at JLL, fears could “drag on housing market activity if clear political leadership does not emerge quickly”.
There will inevitably be some ministerial shake-ups over the next few days, including the appointment of a new housing minister, after Gavin Barwell lost his seat last night. But whoever is the next housing minister must reaffirm commitments to the existing policy direction rather than to create further disruption or uncertainty, according to Challis.
He added: “Importantly for housing supply, the policy direction as set out in the White Paper on building more homes across the range of tenures, will be upheld. Supporting new methods of delivery such as Build to Rent and off-site construction are also emerging and exciting sectors that will expand the pace of housing delivery.
“JLL believes the housing crisis deserves greater ambition and bold action from the new government. This requires cross-party support to de-politicise solutions and to provide longer-term backing for new solutions.”
In the midst of what he described as “another democratic disaster”, Jake Russell (below), director at Russell Simpson, said that he is “dismayed as to why an election was ever called”.
He continued: “Since the [EU] referendum, we've been desperate to bring a sense of calm and stability to the political spectrum, however, all this has resulted in yet more doubt and instability.
“With the pound floundering we could well see another wave of Dollar buyers taking advantage of an improved exchange rate, but there will undoubtedly be some backlash in the market as some buyers pull out altogether.”
Given that the property market thrives on confidence, John East, director of KFH Land and New Homes, insists that the uncertainty of a hung parliament is “quickly resolved” and “a clear strategy is set out to tackle housing shortfalls, particularly in London”.
His colleague, Robert McLaughlin, sales director at KFH, concurred: “It’s important a government is quickly confirmed in order to provide all corners of the economy with confidence.
“Motivated buyers and sellers have not been put off by the politicking of the last two years and we expect that to continue now the election is out the way.”
But despite the various political disagreements, Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent, points out that one thing that all the parties do agree on is the fact that we need more housing, and that “has to be a priority for whichever formal or informal coalition is created”.
In fact, while a hung parliament could be viewed as a bad thing as it will see uncertainty continue, it may now result in more cross-party debate taking place, which should be welcomed by those in the property sector, according David Westgate (below), group chief executive at Andrews Property Group.
He commented: “Housing should be above politics and a hung Parliament could see more de-politicised debate take place. This should be welcomed.
“Whatever the long-term outlook may be, the needs in housing and property remain the same. We need to ensure that more properties are built and that the conditions are in place to make this happen, whilst developers are given the confidence to progress with new projects.
“We also need to see an increase the supply of properties coming on to the market and one way to achieve this would be via an urgent review of stamp duty which none of the main parties committed to before we went to the polls – now would be a good time to make that commitment.”