Issue 472

Pills into Profit

4 February 2010 / Issue 472

The coming medical boom


  • Cash in on the turmoil in the eurozone
  • How toxic is Britains debt?
  • The 'Tony Blair' of business takes on ITV


The great property stand-off

We are still trying to buy a house in Edinburgh. It’s exhausting. Why? Nothing to buy. Like all the other buyers knocking around, we don’t want any of the houses on the market: they’re either not very nice, or they’re commercial buildings tipped for residential conversion that no one can get a mortgage on. And, despite the estate agents’ promises, nothing new is coming on. 

The problem, it seems, is that while people want to sell, they refuse to do so at anywhere near today’s price. They call an agent. He tells them what the house is worth. They recoil in horror, point out that in 2007 they could have got £500,000 more for it, and refuse to sell. So the market remains in a tedious stand-off. 

Who will blink first? The would-be sellers think it will be the buyers. They’re wrong. We know unemployment is rising, as is underemployment (however you spin the statistics). And we can guess that with public-sector spending cuts on the way, it will rise further and faster than it has so far. We also know that, whether base rates rise or not, mortgage rates aren’t falling further and, in many cases, are rising. Several institutions have hiked their standard variable rates recently and the only good deals on the market are still for those with big deposits.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: The great property stand off.