IT’S not just because I recently put my house up for sale that the state of the North-East property market is on my mind at the moment, writes Ross Smith, NECC Director of Policy.

However, the fact that two neighbours in our cul-de-sac also chose to do so within the same month suggests something is happening.

We are probably but three examples of people who are driving renewed activity in housing in the region.

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When the Housing Task Group we are running with law firm Watson Burton met this week, several leading industry representatives confirmed there is no shortage of interest in buying homes in the North-East.

But they had significant concerns about whether the region is on course to meet its housing need and make the most of the economic opportunity this creates.

Three issues were prominent in the discussions. The first was planning – partly because of the willingness to bow to anti-development pressure groups, and partly because of the way capacity in local authorities has been eroded during recent cuts.

The second was finance. This includes the bureaucracy attached to funds available from Government, and also the caution in the mortgage market.

Figures from the National Association of Estate Agents show that just three per cent of homebuyers last month were aged 18 to 30 – down from 12 per cent a year ago. Although no one wants to repeat the mistakes made prior to the financial crash, this is a serious concern.

The third issue was inefficient use of the North-East’s existing housing stock. This is partly driven by Government policy, for example through the so-called ‘bedroom tax’. It’s also caused by the approach of individuals, such as many people’s unwillingness to ‘downsize’ in later life, meaning larger homes are not made available to families.

Our Housing Task Group will be looking to identify successful approaches that have addressed these issues, and suggest measures which could improve the market in the North-East.

We are keen to hear from businesses or other organisations that have an interest in this area or suggestions to offer.

And if you have any interest in a three bedroomed terrace with a garage and back garden, feel free to get in touch too.