Understanding local housing markets

The national housing debate is being over-simplified, leading to policy and funding decisions that may not best address issues faced by many areas. In this guest blog as part of our Future of Housing series, Neal Hudson, Director of Residential Analysts Ltd, says technology and data can offer local authorities a better understanding of the complexities in their local housing markets, helping them make decisions that deliver better outcomes for housing.

There is widespread public and political recognition that we are in the midst of a crisis in housing and local authorities will play an important role in fixing it.

Local authorities want to ensure affordable, suitable, and good quality housing is available for everyone in the community within successful and sustainable places. To do this, they are:

  • Developing interest in delivering new homes alone or in partnership with others.
  • Embedding housing as a part of wider strategies for the health and well-being of individuals and places.
  • Building relationships with the reshaped Homes England and the Greater London Authority (GLA).
  • Taking forward new planning responsibilities within the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) guided by the assessed local housing need.

However, there has been little consensus around what constitutes the current housing crisis and how to solve it. The national housing debate regularly fails to recognise that housing is a complex and interconnected system within the economy and society. Housing market dynamics vary enormously between and within local authority areas. There are multiple markets within each local authority, and the housing need and demand is perhaps even more varied.

Given this complexity, it is clear there is no simple, single housing crisis. There are multiple overlapping issues that affect different parts of the country and different types of people in different ways and to varying degrees. There may be factors that influence all housing markets across the UK, indeed across much of the globe. There will, however, be others that impact more locally and within specific housing sectors.

What we’re doing

Last summer, we undertook some research for Sky News building on the idea of multiple housing crises. The research looked at five of perhaps the most important reasons presented as the underlying cause of a housing crisis and how they varied across the UK.

Building on those findings, [PDF] we are now undertaking a project for the Local Government Association (LGA) to guide local authorities on how to better understand their local housing markets. This will provide an important additional tool in helping them make decisions that deliver better outcomes for housing in their local areas.

The LGA project will focus on providing local authorities with advice and guidance around existing publicly available data on how to use and interpret it. Technology will be an essential tool for delivering bespoke outputs to each of the 326 local authorities across England but there’s much more that technology – grounded in an understanding of the underlying data – can do beyond the scope of this project.

You can follow Neal Hudson on Twitter @resi_analystResidential Analysts Ltd, a consultancy that provides data-led research and analysis of the UK housing market.

This guest blog is one in a series and is part of our new Future of Housing programme. Find out more about our work in this area by visiting our new Future of Housing hub.

Are you interested in sharing your insights in this area? If you’d like to let us know about some of the projects you’re working on in this space, please email