Jonathan Sealey is chief executive of Hope Capital
So we find ourselves in an environment with a new Prime Minister and a very new cabinet.
Not only do we have a new Chancellor but a new housing minister too which could mean wholescale change from the path we have been on over the past few years – despite them all coming from the same party.
While the thought of a new housing minister could sound promising, the fact the role remains a junior one and the minister also has responsibility for both planning and for London, surely means that, at best, the role will be diluted, while at worst, the London element of the role could well mean that the Minister, based in Croydon Central, has a very London centric view. This could mean that housing priorities in the rest of the country are either overlooked or not given the weight they deserve.
The more cynical could also say that the appointment of a new housing minister could also see the much talked about, but incredibly hard to achieve, target of one million new houses by 2020 also goes by the wayside. It is interesting to see that none of those who originally put this target in place are in position any longer.
The need for new homes remains as high as ever, and, at Hope Capital we are seeing a growing number of properties adapted and refurbished for accommodation, either for owner occupiers or as rental properties. These are either existing housing being adapted to accommodate more people or properties undergoing a change of use from commercial to residential.
Despite speculation since the Brexit vote, there has certainly been no downturn that we have seen in the number of people looking for short term loans, especially for development or refurbishment.
If anything we have seen more broker enquiries than we did before the referendum. The one change we have seen is brokers targeting smaller lenders which have their own funds with reports that some larger lenders are now turning brokers down, reputedly through their own source of funds being withdrawn, although this is hard to verify.
The positive about the new cabinet is that the speed at which Theresa May and her new team were appointed seems to have brought about an element of stability to the markets and buoyed confidence. Even the pound has rebounded a little.
It is this confidence that is likely to have the biggest effect on housing and therefore the bridging market.
While developers feel they will get a good return on their properties they will continue to refurbish and develop.
If they feel that house prices are going up and there are still people to sell to they will continue to look for finance for the requisite development. At the moment there appears to be no sign of this dropping off and a stable government will help to ensure it remains the case.
Only time will tell if the new housing minister is willing and capable of delivering on the promise of the one million new homes that the country so desperately needs, but in the meantime, even the appearance of ‘business as usual’ could well help it to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.