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Who’s been homeowners’ favourite Chancellor?

by LLB political Reporter
5th Mar 24 9:42 am

Gordon Brown has been homeowners’ favourite Chancellor over the last 30 years, according to new research from national estate agency Jackson-Stops.

He oversaw an average of nearly 96,999 property transactions per month, almost triple the volume of current Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, whose average sits at just 37,236.

The research from Jackson-Stops examines how the property market has performed under different Chancellors dating back to 1997. It examines a range of indicators including monthly transaction volumes, national mortgage debt and average house price growth under the nine Chancellors to have led HM Treasury during that period.

Among the six Chancellors to have served for more than a 12-month period, Brown’s time in office also had the biggest positive effect on house prices based on monthly average prices, adjusted for inflation. House prices in England rose £1,764 per month on average during his tenure, ahead of Rishi Sunak on £1,101.

Other than Alistair Darling, whose time at No. 11 Downing Street coincided with the Global Financial Crisis, current Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is the only Chancellor to serve more than one year and see house prices fall during that period, costing homeowners -£465 a month on average.

Gordon Brown’s decade at No.11 Downing Street as Chancellor of the Exchequer saw him preside over the longest period of sustained economic growth in British history. Not only did his time see the highest volume of average monthly transactions in 30 years, but average house prices in England grew by 223%, boosting the total value of England’s housing market by 234% and increasing homeowners’ equity by 279%.

The nation’s worst performing Chancellor for homeowners in terms of value alone is revealed to be Alistair Darling, according to the research, who witnessed the largest fall in value of England’s housing market at -8%, alongside a -15% fall in property equity during his time in power throughout the 2008 financial crash.

Kwasi Kwarteng and Jeremy Hunt also join Darling as the only Chancellors since 1995 to see house prices fall on their watch while mortgage debt held firm or rose.

But it is Jeremy Hunt who bottoms the charts for transactions with a monthly average of just 37,236, nearly two thirds less than Brown, as current mobility in the market remains limp.

Hunt, alongside his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng – notable for the mini-Budget under the UK’s shortest-serving Prime Minister, Liz Truss – both sit in negative growth territory, where total mortgage debt is either stable or rising, while house prices, total market value, and total equity, have all fallen.

The analysis points to George Osborne the most successful Tory Chancellor measured by house price growth and equity, who oversaw residential values grow more than three times faster (28%) than mortgage debt (9%), helped by the post-financial crisis recovery and the introduction of Help to Buy.

Osborne saw £1.2 trillion worth of residential property transactions go through during his 74 months as Chancellor, a figure which is exceptional when compared with Brown’s £1.7 trillion but who served for nearly double the time (121 months).

Current prime minster Rishi Sunak, who was Chancellor for 28 months from February 2020 to July 2022, is unusual as the only Chancellor (other than George Osborne, who benefitted from the post-2008 recovery) who did better than his predecessor for increasing average house prices (11%) and total equity (14%), helped by the pandemic recovery and the Stamp Duty holiday.

Muted transaction volumes in recent times have left many anticipating change may be afoot in the lead up to the Spring Budget on March 6. Rumours are already circulating of new mortgage schemes, potential tax cuts, and other ways of stimulating the economy and inspiring consumer confidence.

“Diminishing terms have meant diminishing returns”, explains Jackson-Stops’ Chairman, Nick Leeming. “The data analysis points to a trend where the shorter the tenure of each Chancellor in power, the lower the value uptick in both property equity and house price appreciation.

“Our analysis indicates that the nation’s Chancellors have got progressively worse at looking after the English housing market in the past three decades. Whilst Gordon Brown’s decade as Chancellor of the Exchequer set several records, it was Alistair Darling who witnessed the largest fall in value of England’s housing market, presiding over the Financial Crash.

“It is after that period that we start to see Chancellors tactfully pull on levers to help stimulate economic and housing growth, but not withstanding their own round of criticism in doing so. The legacy of both Help to Buy and the stamp duty holiday created market peaks, and a steep increase in property prices. In June 2021, for instance, we saw house price growth reach 13.4% – its highest for 17 years.

Nick adds, “According to our data, Jeremy Hunt’s time in office has produced the lowest number of average monthly property sales in the past 30 years, since records began. March’s Budget will be a significant time for anyone planning to buy or sell a home.

“It will also lay the foundations of the Conservative’s tactics to win consumer hearts and minds ahead of Autumn’s general election. The industry will be watching with huge anticipation.”

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