The Dire Housing Crisis Needs The Help of Property Crowdfunding
The housing crisis in the UK doesn’t just restrict our ability to provide the much-needed homes the country’s population needs. It’s also, according to Katja Hall, the Deputy Director-General of CBI, costing UK households £4bn a year.
Of this figure, £3.2bn is down to increased housing costs, and the remaining £770m is due to higher transport costs, as inability to live near work drives more people to commute expensive distances from work. This is, of course, exacerbated by soaring fuel prices and train fares.
Housing shortages are also pushing up market rent at a time when, for the majority of households, disposable income remains weak. The high cost of moving home and lack of decent and affordable housing also deprives businesses of the flexible and mobile workforce necessary for them to grow and thrive. In short, people and businesses are paying the price for our lack of new homes.
We know that we need to double the number of new homes we provide every year to meet demand, and have been falling shockingly short for years.
House Builders’ Hands Are Tied
Combined with difficulty accessing available land for building on, despite only 10% of the UK’s land being developed, access to finance continues to pose a major barrier for small and medium sized house builders, further exacerbating the housing crisis. The government needs to focus its spending on capital investment in housing stock, but house builders also need access to alternative forms of finance in order to make a dent in the provision of new housing.
Secured peer-to-peer lending to house builders offers a marked solution to the problem. Provided house builders can secure planning permission, access to finance through the property crowdfunding industry has the potential to keep house builders afloat, whilst simultaneously assisting with the provision of these desperately needed new homes.
Property Developers Need Finance
Along with the problem of providing new builds, there are also an estimated 650,000 empty properties in the UK, over 200,000 of which have been left empty for over six months. Whilst house builders take care of the situation of building new accommodation altogether, there is also much scope for developers.
Many of the empty homes in the UK require significant renovation, and one of the barriers for developers who would do so is the un-mortgageability of these properties. Properties come up for sale by auction all the time, but without ready access to funding, there is no way for most people to take up the investment.
Bridging finance, again offered within the property crowdfunding model, can tide investors over so that they may make those time-sensitive investments. Peer-to-peer funding for renovation work also opens the doors to small and medium-sized property developers to work their magic and provide modern, high-quality homes.
Equally, straight-up crowdfunded investment projects do the same job of bringing high-quality housing to market.
The Government’s See-Saw Success
Government investment in build-to-rent is promising, with a £45m cash injection for 2,000 new homes in the North being announced late in 2016. However, optimistic news back in October of government promises for 225,000 new homes by 2020 was shadowed by the mention that only 15,000 of these would be ready for habitation by then.
Realising their inability to cope with the housing crisis themselves, the government has recognised the solution that the property crowdfunding industry is offering to the crisis, and has provided significant investment in the model.
We are confident that the property crowdfunding industry will be instrumental in helping to alleviate at least some of the problems with UK housing stock, whilst also offering an alternative investment option for those seeking to invest in the property market themselves.