The endless Brexit drama, the Trump farce and even the pandemic itself has brought into sharp focus just how stark the differences between everyday people can be. However, one such split that seems to be on the mend is the ‘North-South divide’.
As a northern lass who has spent much of life living down south, this one means something to me.
There’s still always going to be a divide between the North and the Couth – who’s got the best chippies, the best accents, the best music – but I feel like it is shrinking where it matters most.
Namely, financial outlook.
For years, the south of England, and in particular London and the South East, has run away with it. Catalysed by huge house price inflation, these areas have become incredibly affluent and sometimes unaffordable for many.
However, is this going to last forever?
There is a mountain to climb for the North to get close to even drawing level, but recent signs are positive.
According to the latest data from chartered surveyors, E.surv: ‘Annual house price growth surpassed 20 per cent in Northern cities’ in the past 12 months.
But, in London, once the epicentre of historic house price inflation, growth has lagged way behind. In fact, E.surv claims, ‘Greater London had the lowest price growth rate of all the regions at 2.8 per cent and is the only one to have a rate of less than 10 per cent.’ Perhaps the tide is turning?
For equity release, this is good news.
Benefits to later life options
For a long time, I have felt that the further the divide between house prices in the North and the South grew, the weaker the broader later life lending offering becomes.
We want a united product and offering across the nation, so the North catching up with the historic gains of the South means that more of our customers are on an even keel.
Of course, property prices in the South remain buoyant. In some specific areas they are actually booming – the South West jumped 2.6 per cent in March versus London’s tamer one per cent growth.
So, ultimately, any northern expansion isn’t coming at the expense of anywhere else in the country, it just brings everyone closer together.
With more property wealth beneath their feet, prospective equity release customers can start to view lifetime mortgages as a more viable option. An option, of course, that must be entered into with careful consideration and only when the time is right, but an option that is solidified by a nationally growing property market.
Overall, the north may still be a little bit behind, but it feels like the property market can be the engine room for catching up.
There’s still a road left to travel and the boom in London and the South East has put them well ahead, but now I don’t feel like they are out of reach.
However, regardless of what the future holds for the North and the property market, I know where I’ll be going for my fish and chips.