Increasing housing supply - Catch 22?

by Malcolm Frodsham, Real Estate Strategies 

Catch 22 , written by Joseph Heller and published in 1961, is often cited as one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century. The housing crisis is certainly one of the most significant problems today and my mind often drifts back to the novel when listening to politicians out-bidding each other with schemes to ‘solve’ the housing crisis. Housing policy epitomises the type of bureaucratic reasoning justifying actions in Catch 22 - the political imperative to avoid any housing policy that actually makes houses affordable!

The housing crisis is real, and solving it requires house prices to fall, either through massive new supply or a reduction in demand.   But there is a catch: politicians know that a fall in house prices will be unpopular with homeowners. Housing is the nation’s chosen store of wealth, so reducing housing costs equates to reducing the stock of wealth. So we have a Catch 22; action must be seen to be taken on the Housing Crisis, but on no account should this action result in lower house prices.

So politicians compete with each other on promises to build more ‘permanent dwellings’, but only ‘affordable’ ones, or in other words, homes that will not actually impact the prices of the rest of the housing stock.

Building any homes is of course tough and unpopular locally, so in order to have a policy to announce, the Government subsidises the buying of houses (Help to Buy). This has the benefit of actively supporting house prices and therefore perpetuating the crisis. This political wheeze would sit happily with any of the absurd notions in Heller’s classic novel.

An achievable solution to affordability, is to switch taxes away from income and instead tax housing wealth. The investment motive to own housing is reduced, encouraging occupiers of homes with more bedrooms than required to trade down to smaller houses (there is a an astonishing 1.8 rooms per person in Great Britain, which is a very peculiar housing shortage indeed).  This would boost housing supply and reduce prices.

Will this happen? Yes, under Labour’s ‘progressive property tax’. Will the electorate vote for such a tax, or is it Catch 22?

A Month's Worth of Rain in One Day?

Malcolm Frodsham, Real Estate Strategies

I’m not sure if it is my advancing years or having three teenage children, but some expressions cause me late night irritation. “A month’s worth of rain has fallen in one day” we are reverently told, but what is this statistic intended to imply? Has this amount of rain ever fallen in one day before or does this happen quite often?

Expressing rainfall, as with many other measures, with reference to an average is not necessarily helpful without further clarification. How often does the average monthly rainfall total fall in one day? What impact will this amount of rain have on the transport infrastructure?

Measuring portfolio risk is similarly subject to the tyranny of averages. The average vacancy period for a particular unit might be 6 months, but what is the likelihood of a longer vacancy period?

Are such events likely to be isolated or are similar units also likely to be affected? Understanding the vulnerability of portfolio income to such events is the key to risk management and measuring the empirical history is the key to estimating the risk. If you are interested in such a study please get in touch.

As with the weather, we may not be able to predict extreme events, but we can at least understand their likelihood and make the necessary preparations and contingencies.

NB: the portfolio affect is amply demonstrated by daily rainfall totals for the South east as a whole for which no single day’s rain has exceeded the monthly average since records began in 1931.

Does Twitter help SEO?

The answer is YES!

Research shows that up to 85% of users will click a company’s social media profile before clicking their website. From all the platforms we decided to focus, today, on Twitter. 

Let’s look at some of the statistics:

According to information available on the web, this channel boasts of 326M monthly active users; There are 500 million tweets sent each day and 6000 tweets every second.  The growing user commitment is a great opportunity for brands.

If numbers are anything to go by then, according to a Twitter survey, 54% of users reported that they had taken action after seeing a brand mentioned in Tweets (including visiting their website, searching for the brand, or retweeting content).

Let’s not forget the Google and Twitter partnership which makes many of the top tweets searchable. Neil Patel aptly points out that search engines use social signals from social media to rank your website. Likes, shares, and comments affect SEO in huge ways.

Here are a few ways you can start to take full advantage of the benefits of Twitter for SEO:

  1. Have a dedicated strategy to increase your following

  2. Add key words and key search phrases to your Twitter bio. Use these words periodically

  3. Show appreciation for those who forward your Tweets. Use @mentions to reference people when they engage.

  4. Retweet to help double your traffic

  5. Redirect users to your website by inserting backlinks to your content

  6. Engage with your audience

  7. Include images, videos and Gifs in your posts. They help the tweets to stand out 

 At Flashbulb we have been using Twitter to drive results for our clients. Get in touch to know more.

People-centred workplaces are centre stage for war on talent

Attracting and retaining talent, as well as maintaining employee productivity is becoming a real concern for organisations, according to a survey carried out at the 12th Property Directors Forum, hosted by Avison Young.

Adopting more ‘flex space’ will be key in talent recruitment and retention, as will improving company’s employee feedback process and the inclusion of employees in decisions that influence how the workplace is run.

The survey, carried out by occupier property directors, identified a people-focused divide in workplaces, with 10% of respondents stating that their firm did not measure employee engagement at all and 57% only measuring employee engagement through a simple question in an annual HR survey. Only 32% of respondents were found to have a dedicated employee engagement tool. 29% of those surveyed have an employee advisor group and 14% are regularly asked to contribute ideas as part of a monthly review.

Jason Sibthorpe, Avison Young’s Principal and President, UK comments: “One of the striking takeaways from our latest Property Director’s Forum is the putting aside of technological advances that have been hot topics over the last couple of years. What employee satisfaction appears to boil down to is the simple things like employee engagement, offering clean facilities (nice loos!) and providing simple perks like tea and biscuits.

“In keeping with the employee engagement theme, the results of the survey suggest that employers need to invest in flexible and people-driven spaces to create more productive and appealing workplaces in order to retain talent,” Jason adds.

On attitudes towards the move to flexible working, the survey found:

  • 57% agreed that flexible space is an appealing environment for employees, with 50% agreeing that flexible space makes attracting and retaining talent easier

  • 39% agreed that flexible working improves employees’ mental well being

  • 62% agreed that the use of flexible space in their real estate portfolio will increase in the next 5 years

Jason concludes: “With the majority of our respondents concerned about attracting and retaining talent, we need to go back to basics. As well as keeping abreast of the latest gadgets and timesaving methods, we shouldn’t forget the need for employees to feel appreciated. A nice workplace, flexibility and a bit of facetime goes a long way in boosting employee productivity.”

The next Property Directors Forum will be held at The Royal Society of Chemistry, Piccadilly, London on Thursday 27th June 2019.