Despite a diverse selection of speakers, lenders, brokers, academics, lettings agents and landlords alike seemed to agree housing policy was in a shambles and government policy was to blame.
The government was only “tinkering around the edges” of real change to housing policy, said Association of Residential Letting Agents vice president Valerie Bannerman. The other speakers took up the refrain – First Buy was merely “a scratch”; the housing strategy needed “root and branch” reform.
On lending, too, the panel remained amiable. Landlords were good borrowers, with lots of experience and a clean record on arrears. Why they were charged higher prices for loans remained elusive.
Paragon managing director John Heron said it was a specialised sector with specialised underwriters, which cost more.
Alternatively it could just be lenders reaping a profit from market forces, an audience member shouted.
This interruption aside, the Great Debate sailed on serenely towards the lunch hour. Even the audience, initially reticent, began to wave their hands when prompted and vote in favour of the consensus.
Finally, everyone agreed there should be no confidence in the government’s housing policy. And with that, they departed for sandwiches.