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Housing Economics and Market Analysis

Housing Economics and Market Analysis

In many countries, the demographic shift towards an ageing population is occurring against a backdrop of welfare state restructuring. The paradigm of asset-based welfare may become increasingly central to these developments as individualised welfare is touted as part of the response to the challenge of funding the care of an ageing population. This article focuses on the framing of housing wealth as a form of asset-based welfare in the UK context. We consider the strengths and weaknesses of housing as a form of asset-based welfare, both in terms of equity between generations and equality within them. We argue that housing market gains have presented many homeowners with significant, and arguably unearned, wealth and that policy-makers could reasonably expect that some of these assets be utilised to meet welfare needs in later life. However, the suitability of asset-based welfare as a panacea to the fiscal costs of an ageing population and welfare state retraction is limited by a number of potential practical and ethical concerns.

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There is an extensive literature on UK regional house price dynamics, yet empirical work focusing on the duration and magnitude of regional housing cycles has received little attention. This paper employs Markov Switching Vector auto regression (MSVAR) methods to examine UK house price cycles in UK regions at NUTS1 level. The research findings indicate that the regional structure of the UK house market is best described as two large groups of regions with marked differences in the amplitude and duration of the cyclical regimes between the two groups. These differences have implications for the design of both macroeconomic and housing sector policies.

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Empirical studies mainly model monetary transmission mechanism and housing prices as being
symmetric across business cycles. However, as the degree of asymmetric information varies with
the state of the economy such notion of a symmetric impact may be incorrect. This paper using
United Kingdom data captures the asymmetric shocks of macro variables on UK house price
from 1980 to end of 2012, employing Markov-switching vector autoregressive (MS-VAR) model
and regime dependent impulse responses. The results suggest that the effect of traditional
monetary policy is not neutral and the impact varies significantly during boom and bust periods.
These findings lead us to believe information asymmetry plays an important role in the economy
and in monetary transmission mechanism.

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A policy paper by Darja Reuschke and Duncan Maclennan which summarises a seminar on Business Investment and Housing which was jointly organised by CHR and the Scottish Government. This seminar was part of a research project about the consequences of the mortgage crisis on small businesses.

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The Centre for Housing Research has released a research report “Growing Economies and Building Homes”. The report examines the impacts of University led growth on the rental housing market in North East fife. The report was to the University of St Andrews and Fife Council. Lead author: Professor Duncan Maclennan.

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The objectives of this commissioned report were to identify and examine housing need and housing pressures in St Andrews and to outline recommendations as how these may be addressed. Following interviews with local organisations and housing providers, a survey of students and resident households and an interrogation of census and local authority demographic (especially age structure) and housing data (house prices, rent charges etc.), two dominant problems were identified: the shortage of affordable housing and the (over) concentration of student accommodation (HMOs – Housing in multiple occupation) in the centre of the town. The report’s recommendations – partially based on experience elsewhere, especially in other university towns - included: the drawing-up of a detailed housing strategy for the town by Fife Council in collaboration with community representatives to cover, inter alia: the development of an appropriate yardstick for student housing density, and the continuation of and a geographical extension of the present HMO moratorium; the construction of additional student accommodation by both private providers and by the University; and the development of a programme for affordable housing provision starting with the designation and development of a ‘social/mixed housing village’ at the Kilrymont site of Madras College when this becomes available.

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Housing market activity and firm formation are both positively correlated with the business cycle, and the levels of mortgage lending to business owners and funding of small firms have fallen in the UK since 2008. This paper explores a neglected, causal linkage between housing assets and small business investment and the economy and, in particular, draws attention to the recent reduction in small business investment consequent to a reduced capacity of entrepreneurs to withdraw or leverage housing equity.

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What can we learn, from international best practice and from within the UK, that could help support the expanded financing of affordable housing supply?

This report reviews international evidence from selected case studies, as well as examples from specific UK nations. It also looks in detail at a small set of specific promising case study policies.
• in a challenging fiscal context, innovation is needed to stretch limited public subsidy and increase private contributions to help deliver additional affordable housing.
• the evidence review indicates that in order to encourage new investment, supply is likely to be at the affordable rather than the social housing end of the spectrum. This is despite the pressures on Housing Benefit and high and increased levels of housing need.
• While interesting ideas that are worth exploration and possible transfer are evident, financial measures such as those discussed here need to be understood in a wider policy context of housing system failure and the continuing need to support new housing for those on low incomes

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Research by St Andrews University and a group of international practitioners says radical thinking is needed to shape a new, entrepreneurial and thriving rental housing sector. The new research - led by Professor Duncan Maclennan and Sharon Chisholm for the Centre for Housing Research (CHR) at the University of St Andrews – calls for a more enterprising and innovative approach in housing alongside a continuing focus on supporting communities and help to improve people’s lives.
The study, New Times, New Business: Housing Provision in Times of Austerity, was being launched today (Friday 1 February 2013) at Glasgow Housing Association’s Training Academy in Glasgow city centre. GHA, which is part of the Wheatley Housing Group, was one of six partners in the research project.

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The New Times, New Business partners today released their final report at the GHA Academy. The full book is available for free download on the CHR website. Paperback copies can be purchased for £3.70 per copy, with a minimum order of 10. Please contact Sharon Chisholm to arrange. A 2 page summary of the main findings is also available. Press release follows.

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