The Great Property Debate

More in due course from The Great Housing Debate, an annual event organised by John Wriglesworth and which was held last week in London. The panelists included, Michael Coogan, Director General of CML; Evan Davis, Economics Editor of BBC; Richard Donnell, Director of Research of Hometrack; Fionnuala Earley, Chief Economist of Nationwide; and David Miles, Managing Director of Morgan Stanley.

It is hard to put into words the frustration felt by the minority of agents present at the waffle coming from the panel who refused to actually debate (they all agreed with each other), they seemed oblivious to what was going on in the real world and one in particular, Fionnuala Earley from the Nationwide who was happy to maintain her predictions of a modest rise in 2008. (Expect an embarrassing climb down any day saying that perhaps they had been a little optimistic. Yer Fionnuala, right!)

Stuart Law bravely sought to provoke by suggesting the unimaginable – that prices would actually rise 5% this year but few attendees will have learned anything and most will have missed the chance to fleetingly visit the real world, to speak to guests from the planet Earth and to hear what is really happening. David Miles, chief economist at Morgan Stanley illustrated how in touch most of the panel were when he said that “house falls will have as many gainers as losers”. I’m not sure David but I suspect that there are more home owners, each of whom will lose than there are first time buyers who you think might gain from cheaper property!

I’m SO annoyed by this wasted opportunity that I’d like to end Lent with a less than Christian reminder of what happened when another bunch of property experts (and myself!) were asked at the MoneyWeek round table last October where house prices would be in 12 months time? Smug? Moi?