Sunday, December 28, 2003

Here comes the Yuppie House Implosion
I'd already outlined in an earlier article about why the housing market in Bristol is heading for an implosion. I think you'll start to the beginning phase of the implosion in 2004. I'm no economist, so there is a pretty healthy margin for error in my interpretation of what is going on, but the signs are here.

The big housing companies are shying away from the higher-end of the luxury market. Witness the words of a Wimpey spokesman (UK biggest housebuilder): "The UK housing market continues to be underpinned by a shortage of supply, caused by continuing planning delays, and good affordability. We will continue to focus on operating margins by managing costs and buying land on better terms, and limiting our exposure to higher priced markets." (Before you think they are going for lower values markets in your price range, they're not. They are looking to move away from £500,000+ and more towards the group average selling price of £160,000.) This statement does show that the bottom is starting to slip from the uber-luxury house, of the kind that The Point has a few showcase apartments.

The Financial Times reported on 22nd December, "Asking prices for houses in London slipped this month, speeding up the length of time it took to sell a property..." which is bad news for those seeking to sell Bristol's surplus luxury housing stock off in London. In 2002 the property consultants Frank Knight said of Bristol; "...consumers are really appreciating just how affordable it is to own their own home, or to trade up. In Bristol’s case and especially in the city centre, this has been the case, with comparative values for well specified apartments and town houses lagging some way behind that of other centres across the UK, which are further along their evolutionary paths." Which is saying that they are seeing yuppies trading up in London to relocate in Bristol, with cash to spare. However, you can't rely on that happening if the prices in London 'aint trading up as expected. (NB. For 'affordable' read 1 bedroom flat starting a £100,000, houses starting at £300,000) It is also interesting that Frank Knight stated in this same report, that those who took advantage of the lower (when compared to other 'evolved' cities) prices were going to be doing very nicely – further proof that those fueling the yuppie flat bubble are speculators, doing nothing to solve Bristol's housing problems and everything to exacerbate them.

While cry of 'From Each According To Their Ability, To Each According to Their Needs' has been shouted in the streets for over a hundred years from Paris to Bristol, now, more than ever do we need to re-examine the roots of a system that rewards those who exacerbate housing problems with exploding profits and punishes those who, while performing the essential services that keep the city moving, are not deemed valuable enough to have a stable roof over their head.

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