Easter is traditionally when the housing market comes out of hibernation – and if ever there were a time when it might be imagined activity would be buoyant, it would be this year. The Bank of England has pegged the official short-term interest rate at 0.5% for more than three years and is now part-way through a third round of asset purchases, which will in total boost the money supply by £325bn.
For the past four decades, cheap credit has been the catalyst for property booms. That was the case in the early 1970s, when Threadneedle Street abandoned direct controls on lending and then watched helplessly as prices rose by 50% in 1973. A second bubble followed 15 years later as a result of a toxic mix of financial deregulation, cuts in interest rates and the pre-announced abolition of double mortgage relief. In the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2007, borrowers could secure loans at high multiples of their income with few questions asked.
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