Most people accept that the banks appear to have learned nothing from the credit crisis of the past two years as an advert for Lloyds TSB confirmed just today. I nearly crashed my car as I listen to the commercial suggesting that “Lloyds TSB understood that businesses found the going tough sometimes and when they did, the ever helpful Black Horse was there to help bail them out”. Pity they didn’t look out for themselves first – then the taxpayer wouldn’t have had to keep them going with £26bn!
Sadly bankers aren’t the only breed to demonstrate breathtaking naïvety. Estate agents have been swigging from the same bottle.
Most of us now see that the Labour legacy left the country in ‘Dickie’s meadow’ as my late father-in-law would say and it’s going to take some unpleasant medicine to get better. Unions seem to find it hard to swallow and it’s clear that the public sector is going to suffer some pain but just as the Government had been preparing the country for serious belt tightening the National Association of Estate Agents helpfully demonstrates it is completely detached from reality. They have called for three pledges from George Osborne when he delivers his emergency budget next Tuesday.
They would like him to ensure that lending criteria for home buyers is sensible, they’d like a review of Stamp Duty and they’d like to explore introducing fiscal incentives to attract more first time buyers.
There is no polite way to say this. They must be crackers!
They refuse to acknowledge the contribution that the housing sector made to the credit crunch. The NAEA are blind to the self-certified mortgages, deaf to the sub-prime crisis and clearly too dumb to be able to work out what will happen if you offer to make home buying easier.
The NAEA wants to stoke the bottom of the housing market in a foolish attempt to get the volume of sales going again. What they fail to grasp is that if you give first time buyers a tenner then all they will do is spend it. Give a drunk another drink, they’ll drink it!
As the Governor of the Bank of England said at the Mansion House last week, “the time has come to take away the punch bowl”. It’s never popular to ask your neighbours to turn the music down but when a party is out of hand you need to calm things down – either that or you need to prepare to clean up a lot of vomit!
Anyone over 35 knows that cleaning up the mess after a housing party is no fun. The last recession was painful for many and left scars on many. Calls to make borrowing easier, to look at alternatives to Stamp Duty and giving incentives to first time buyers who have already had the cost of Stamp Duty removed is just bonkers.
Most property people accept the part their sector played in the crisis and most have accepted the new, more modest market and have no desire to pump it up again. They have no wish for a serious hangover and most want the last few drunks who want to party just to go home.