Safe as houses: Property PR and the current housing market
Interesting times for property PR.
There has definitely been a shift in the media sentiment recently with regards to the housing market. Investors are notably becoming more bullish in their sentiments towards UK residential property which has obviously filtered into the press. It therefore appears that the latest round of quantitative easing from the Bank of England seems to have had the desired effect, with property headlines looking more positive than they have done since before the financial crisis. However, whilst I have had the pleasure of sitting in on press briefings of a more optimistic note of late, I have also noticed a general scepticism towards the long list of government initiatives; Help to Buy, New Buy, New Build, SharetoBuy….(the list goes on!) though Funding for Lending does seem to be slightly more immune…
Looking forward to its first birthday in July, FLS has been comparatively well received by the vast majority, with positive headlines all over the property and financial press. Indeed, as a PR consultancy to the mortgage industry I noted that a number of brokers appealed for the extension of the scheme before the announcement of the Budget in March, though we have had to wait up until recently for that extension to be confirmed.
I think the real question on everyone’s lips is whether or not these schemes really are having a positive impact or if they are in fact having the same effect as a band aid against a severely deep wound that just won’t heal. In my local pub the other day I even overheard talk of another housing market crash in the not too distant future, though the current investor appetite towards prime residential property as outlined recently by Chesterton Humberts would not seem to confirm as much.
Bricks and mortar once again top the charts for both retail and now also institutional investors according to the recent report, therefore whilst mortgage rates remain low the least we can hope for is a more buoyant housing market across the UK, with more first time buyers boosting the whole of the market and second steppers finally able to begin upsizing into family homes.
Before the recession, homeowners had started to regard a sub prime lending environment as the norm. Perhaps in the cold light of day it is a question of changing our perceptions as we begin to emerge out of recession so that we as borrowers begin to understand what is actually affordable and what it is to be responsible. That is of course, a big ask of the mortgage lenders and brokers in this country in terms of educating their borrowers towards becoming more responsible and considered when making such a crucial life choice.
The role of PR is not to be underestimated in achieving this aim; as lenders and brokers must ensure that their communications with both existing and potential homeowners remain consistent, informative and educational all at once. With a combination of powerful marketing collaterals and creative press commentary, the mortgage industry might just be able to talk UK homeowners into becoming more responsible and financially savvy individuals which couldn’t be a better thing for our bruised and battered economy.