Property Copywriter Eyes Global House Prices

Property Copywriter Eyes Global House Prices

  As a property copywriter and former Sydney resident, I take more than a passing interest in the Australian ‘property bubble’. In recent months, I’ve also been watching how house prices have risen in other capital cities.   If you think UK prices are unsustainable, take a look at places like Hong Kong, Auckland, Vancouver, New York and – yes – Sydney! In Australia, they blame the Federal Government for limiting land supply. This is a bit rich when you consider that around 90% of the huge Australian landmass is virtually uninhabited! In Hong Kong, you can see what the problem is. This small part of China is ridiculously over-populated – much like the Chinese mainland itself of course. What about New Zealand? The South Island is all big skies and National Geographic – so what could possibly be the issue there? Is it to do with everyone seeing Kiwi-land as the most civilized bolt-hole on the planet? Or is the reality more to do with Chinese investors piling into Auckland?   What About Affordability? When it comes to house prices, why hasn’t ‘the affordability factor’ kicked in? Why haven’t we seen any price crashes? Surely one day the markets will wake up to the fact that ordinary residents of the world’s great cities (as opposed to the migratory super-rich) can no longer afford to live and work in these places? In cities like London and New York, we’ve seen the steady gentrification of former working-class areas where house prices have rocketed and local cultures emasculated. This strange form of ethnic cleansing has seen established populations driven out by... Read more...
Skyscrapers or Bungalows? How Dense Can You Get?

Skyscrapers or Bungalows? How Dense Can You Get?

We’ve all heard the joke about ‘Bungalow Bill’, the well-endowed lover who doesn’t have much upstairs. What we don’t hear much about is how the single-storey staple of 1960s house builders became a virtual laughing stock barely half a century later.     Instructive in understanding this phenomenon is to look back, not so much in anger, but in suspended disbelief. When it came to house building in the 60s, Britain dreamed big. It also dreamed gentle. The competing notions of thrusting modernistic tower blocks conflicted culturally with sedate single-level bungalows. In those days, of course, there wasn’t the same pressure to build as many homes as possible on whatever land was available. Housing density simply wasn’t an issue. Having said that, the idealism that reigned in some local authority quarters made a massive impact. ‘Building high’ came straight out of Central Planning where town hall apparatchiks had likely gorged on too much Aldous Huxley. Bungalows, on the other hand, were for dreamers of a different ilk – earnest, almost-middle-class types, fattened on a televisual feast of stateside colonial clapboard and a picket-fenced Stepford Wives utopia. Fast forward 60 years where we inhabit another world. Today, the multi-storey concrete-slab temples of Bauhaus-inspired civic pride are hugely discredited – despite still featuring prominently in urban planning future-scapes. For totally different reasons, the bungalow (on the face of it) looks like a spent shilling. To confirm its apparent indigence as a design concept, the National House Building Council tells us that only one per cent of homes built in the UK in 2014 were bungalows.   Why So? It wasn’t always... Read more...
Manchester – Just Another UK Property Tale?

Manchester – Just Another UK Property Tale?

  The news that property ‘ownership’ in the Manchester area has slumped to ever-new levels isn’t just bad news for first-time buyers. It’s also bad news for all right-minded people who hope that the UK economy will one day shrug off its imbalances and head towards what Theresa May has declared will be a society that’s equal for everyone. Maybe we should ponder the statistics of so-called ‘ownership’ a little more carefully. The term refers for the most part to those with a mortgage (whose homes are effectively ‘owned’ by their bank or building society). Those who own their homes outright are in the minority. Since the financial crisis of 2009, mortgages have been more difficult to come by, and especially so for would-be first-time buyers. In addition, house prices across much of the country (and particularly in cities) are now hopelessly out of kilter with incomes. For some, even saving for a 5% deposit (for a 95% mortgage) is a massive ask. This is especially the case where most of their income is swallowed up by rent. Apologists for the burgeoning buy-to-let private landlord sector blame high house prices for high rents.   In fairness, what they’re saying is that there aren’t enough houses being built to meet demand – hence the spiraling house prices that show no signs of abating. Even in the post-Brexit era of ultra-low interest rates, the stumbling block for most young people hoping to hop onto the housing ladder is raising the deposit. Despite various government-backed schemes to help first-time buyers, high house prices are still locking out a whole generation of buyers. The... Read more...
Property Copywriting at Quarter 3, 2016

Property Copywriting at Quarter 3, 2016

Prophets of Doom still stalk the Land of Opportunity. As yet, the lights are still off and prospects for the post-Brexit property sector are uncertain. UK copywriters are holding their breath! This is all a great pity. When you consider that private housebuilding is worth an estimated £30 billion per year to the British economy, any further shocks could leave a big sinkhole in pro-Brexit expectations. At Nationwide, the country’s biggest building society, the jury is out regarding near-term prospects for the housing market. By the time you read this, the Bank of England may have reduced interest rates and reverted to Quantitative Easing. To keep the house-building show on the road – and the estimated 250,000 jobs that depend on its success – it may be that local authorities and housing associations will need to pick up the baton. If not, recession could be just that little bit nearer. Interest rates will be rock bottom of course, and fixed-term mortgages will be tempting for those in secure employment – and with a big, fat deposit. Who knows whether house prices will remain stubbornly high?   A confusing picture In London, the rate of price increases is slowing – and not before time. For the rest of the country, ripples from the London market will probably arrive within a few months. For first-time buyers, this is good news. For investors and others, probably less so. Rightmove, the online property portal, has suggested we should all hold our nerve: ‘Worries of a slowing UK housing market and potential closure of estate agents are overdone,’ they say. It looks like we’ll... Read more...
Copywriting – The Champion of Change

Copywriting – The Champion of Change

‘Change’ is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment. You’ll probably hear it whispered in the same breath as Brexit. The good news is: business will always adapt to economic change – and, as the handmaiden of marketing, copywriting will never be far behind. For copywriters, ‘change’ is a way of life. First came the Internet; then Google; then SEO. All of these changes, and more, transformed the world of copywriting in little more than a decade. In this context, Brexit is little more than a blip. Dare it be said: the word ‘opportunity’ has even been heard in some quarters!   ‘Opportunity’ Is The Brexit Keyword The enforced changes we all have to face in the post-Brexit era will bring new and unexpected opportunities for those who are ready to exploit them. In the world of business, that means new and improved marketing. In the world of marketing, it means persuasive copywriting, inviting content and innovative channels that will best bring piggy to market. Bear in mind that this is a new scenario where consumers’ pockets could well be raided by a depleted pound, rising inflation and a receding economy. With a little judicious aforethought, however, copywriting will stand out as the most flexible tool for achieving marketing success. New opportunities exist in new markets. For existing customers, fresh approaches can be devised to out-strip the competition. Anyone who runs or manages a business will be on the lookout for OPPORTUNITY. And although the dust has far from settled on the UK’s rapidly evolving political and economic landscape, those who are prepared to take measured risks will... Read more...
Cameron's New Young Property People

Cameron's New Young Property People

This week’s Tory Party Conference will no doubt be dominated by Iraq.  Somewhere in the mix, however, we can expect to hear more about the vote-winning wheeze of seducing England’s first-time house buyers under the age of 40 with a scheme that knocks 20% off the market value of a home. The Tories’ pledge is to build 100,000 new homes on brownfield sites (and public sector land) over the course of the next parliament – a knee-jerk reaction, perhaps, to Ed Milliband’s earlier promise to build half a million homes by 2025! Whoever you believe, there’s no doubt that the housing shortage will become a political hot potato before next May’s General Election.  This is hardly surprising given the concerns at so many levels about the social and economic effects of unaffordable housing. Nowhere are the effects of this more evident than among the ‘boomerang generation’ of twenty-somethings who have been forced to live with their parents way beyond the age that most of us would find acceptable. As the house-price bubble continues to inflate, the age of this disenfranchised group is creeping inexorably upwards.  It’s not uncommon nowadays for young men and women in their 30s to be still living at home. Does Tinkering Work? We’ve already seen government step in to kick-start the housing market in the immediate post-recession era with its Help To Buy initiative.  This scheme will also be available to those who qualify for the new Tory deal. In important ways, fiscal tinkering of this order highlights the misguided thinking that’s been going on in government circles for long enough.  As Shadow Housing Minister... Read more...