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Market Thoughts column: Two-track markets

Mark Robinson is the chief executive of Market Harborough Building Society.

Mark Robinson is the chief executive of Market Harborough Building Society.

 

There are two extremes of the UK housing market that are beyond most of our personal experiences.

The ultra-exclusive end of the market is for those London houses with AAA addresses and basements dug out into McLaren garages, pools and cinema rooms.

Top spot probably goes to a house in Rutland Gardens in Knightsbridge which is reportedly on the market at £300m.

Meanwhile, equally astonishingly, £1 (yes £1) will buy a house which “needs attention” in either Stoke or Liverpool.

Supply and demand then can clearly create a value ratio of 300,000,000 to 1.

I suspect the future inflation prospects of our two extremes may also be very different too.

A recent report from American Express on this point around differences in house prices makes relevant reading.

The report suggests places with a range of good independent shops have added an extra £40,000 to average local house prices in the past 10 years.

Furthermore, with some courage, they predict a further premium of £70,000 over the next 10 years compared to places that don’t.

The shops that the report says are associated with this gap are bakers, butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers. This feels right but it’s hard to disentangle cause and effect here.

Independent shops need regular support from customers with above-average spending power.

Customers like to live where “proper” shops add to the street scene and offer great service, not necessarily the lowest price.

Forgive me; I have gone on about the difference between price and value too often. But independent shops only do well with regular support from customers with above-average spending power.

So the good independent shop thrives where that sort of customer likes to live.

So is it the independent shops that cause the house price rises or the other way around?

“Who cares?” is probably the only sensible response, as the effect is both ways.

So long as this happy relationship continues the positive feedback should continue. But what if the circle breaks?

If support for good independent shops dwindles, those shops will disappear.

If they do, the American Express report predicts house prices will be affected.

Maybe browsing locally and buying elsewhere is not such a smart way to save money?

Column by Mark Robinson. Mr Robinson is the chief executive of Market Harborough Building Society.

For more details about the society, see its website at www.mhbs.co.uk or follow them on Twitter @MarketHarbBS.

 

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