UK housing market has ‘deep problems’

Carney has previously said the BoE will seek to use its new powers over credit before it resorts to raising interest rates.



By William Schomberg And Stephen Addison

Published: Mon 19 May 2014, 10:38 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 3:15 AM

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney gave his strongest warning to date about the risks of a housing bubble and said the BoE was looking at new measures to control mortgage lending amid a shortage of home building.

The British housing market has “deep, deep” structural problems, chief among them insufficient construction of new homes, Carney said in an interview with Sky News television broadcast on Sunday.

“When we look at domestic risk the biggest risk to financial stability, and therefore to the durability of the expansion, those risks centre in the housing market and that’s why we are focused on that,” he said.

Helped by a recovery in the economy, record-low interest rates and government schemes to help home buyers, British house prices jumped about 10 per cent in the 12 months to April, raising concerns that buyers will take on too much debt.

Carney has previously said the BoE will seek to use its new powers over credit before it resorts to raising interest rates.

He made clear on Sunday that he saw the biggest problem in the property market as the shortage of new homes, saying twice as many houses were built each year in his native Canada than in Britain which has double the population.

Construction started on more new homes in England last year than at any point since 2007. But at 123,000 units, house-building remains short of the 200,000 which many economists consider to be the minimum needed each year.

“We’re not going to build a single house at the Bank of England and we can’t influence that,” Carney said.

Also speaking to Sky News, Prime Minister David Cameron said Carney was “absolutely right” to point to the lack of housing but said government programmes were helping to get more built.

Britain has already toughened up checks for banks on mortgage applications and the BoE may take more measures as soon as next month.

The Bank was looking at the possibility of recommending that banks do more to limit the size of mortgages based on the incomes of borrowers, a potentially controversial move by the BoE that could be felt by many would-be homeowners, Carney said. — Reuters


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