Amid an uncertain political landscape, the only certainty appears to be that we will have a new housing minister.
The person appointed will be the 15th since 1997, after the latest incumbent, Gavin Barwell, lost his seat in Thursday’s General Election.
Barwell has however been announced as new chief of staff at Number 10. His appointment was welcomed in a tweet by another former housing minister, Grant Shapps, who said:
“Hugely welcome @GavinBarwell as new Chief of Staff in No 10. Experience as MP, minister and in CCHQ. GREAT move!”
Estate agent Don Locke also failed to get in at the same constituency, Croydon Central. The 26-year-old, standing as an independent, came bottom of the poll with just 71 votes. Labour’s Sarah Jones won 29,873 votes, with Barwell getting 24,221 votes.
Barwell had been housing minister for less than a year – like so many of his predecessors. Nor, like all of them, did he have a seat in the Cabinet.
One possible candidate could be Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake, who won his seat in Thirsk and Malton with 60% of the vote, up 7% from the 2015 election.
Hollinrake co-founded Hunters.
Meanwhile, Anthony Codling, city analyst at Jefferies, is among those expecting a summer of discontent with the possibility of another election in the autumn.
He forecast dark days for estate agents, saying: “We expect that the impact of a hung parliament will be to further depress the level of housing transactions and cause more households to defer their home-moving plans.
“There is, however, a silver lining to the housing market cloud: further tightening in secondhand stock levels would, in our view, underpin prices, reducing the risk of significant house price falls.”
The Democratic Unionist Party’s deal with the Tories is unlikely to make much of difference to the housing market. That is because housing policy is fully devolved in Northern Ireland, and the unionists’ manifesto only referred to the Northern Ireland market.
The unionists promised to deliver 8,000 social and affordable homes in Northern Ireland by 2020, and turn the Northern Ireland Housing Executive – which owns and manages 90,000 social homes on behalf of the government – into a ‘strategic housing body’.
The party also promised support for tackling homelessness and for shared ownership.
Meanwhile, the Resolution Foundation has speculated that many younger people voted last Thursday because home ownership rates in their age group have collapsed.
The Times has also expressed concerns. Anne Ashworth, writing in Bricks & Mortar, warned: “The new government may be unconcerned that more home owners are poring over paint charts than hiring removal vans.
“Yet such complacency is dangerous, given the damaging impact of the standstill on the wider economy.
“Looking forward, ministers must summon the courage and resources to tackle this crisis.”