The positivity at RESI was pleasing to see, with lots of encouraging discussion about the private rented sector (PRS), the possibility (or hope) of stamp duty cuts on the way in the Autumn Statement and the general prospects of residential property in this post-Brexit vote world.
However, that positivity was often tinged with some negativity whenever the discussion centred on the government’s aim to deliver one million new homes by 2020, a target that everyone seems to be united in considering unrealistic and unachievable.
But I wonder whether the focus on how unrealistic that housing target is may be holding most of the industry back from actually starting to deliver more homes.
There are lots of discussions and debates on why building 200,000 or more homes a year is unfeasible, touching on everything from the availability of land to the archaic planning system. However, I do believe that if that target wasn’t in place, or perhaps not as central to the discussion, then as an industry we would focus more clearly on the task at hand.
Delivering 200,000 homes a year is a huge ask, so instead we should all be looking to increase the number of homes we do build each year and start making some inroads.
Of course, it is important to recognise the practical roadblocks that are holding back housing production. But there comes a time when the talking has to stop and be replaced with action. That’s why we have launched our Property Development Academy, aimed at helping would-be developers build the necessary skillset needed to make a success of their building projects.
If other firms across the property industry put their energy into their own practical initiatives, I believe we would start to see some tangible results, which would soon add up to something substantial.
How great would it be if we all came back to RESI this time next year, set out what we did to make a difference and then added up all of our efforts? It may not total 200,000 new homes, but it would be a start. After all, actions speak louder than words.
Steve Larkin, director of development finance at LendInvest