Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

Just now there are smiles and up beat conversations between those of us involved in the local property market.

Estate agents, mortgage brokers, surveyors and solicitors are busy. And that’s good news, isn’t it?

In the short term it is good news, especially for those who have wanted to move house but couldn’t sell and for business owners and employees whose livelihood depends on the property market.

But as we emerge from the long winter of property stagnation that’s lasted since 2008, many of us are cautious about spring turning into summer too soon and too dramatically.

At the moment supply seems to be keeping pace with demand as estate agents see property which has been on their shelves for some time, get picked up, viewed and bought, but if demand out strips supply there is the worry that prices will creep up and if that happens the fragile recovery could either falter or get over heated.

I have business meetings in London at least once a month and stepping off the train upon returning to Lancaster I never fail to be grateful for living where I do.

How do people in London manage to buy a place to live when a tiny flat can cost an eye watering amount more than a decent house and garden in Lancaster?

The reality is that if house price inflation in Lancaster starts to out strip wages, less of us will be able to aspire to own the roof over our heads.

Building more houses is one answer.

And we are doing that in spades in Lancaster at present.

But we need other, perhaps more imaginative ideas to maintain a stable, buoyant, housing market.

Maybe we should look at making better use of the housing stock we have by encouraging more of us to live in or above the empty shops in our city centre, or more multi-generational living or making the older houses more energy efficient and so cheaper to run?

Because behind the smiles there is a fear that the housing market could be either our salvation or our downfall, as it’s been both before.

So somehow, sustainable property ownership has to remain both realistic and affordable to the working population.