Things...Did They Only Get Better?

So here it is, the May 6 general election. Is it the end of an era? Have 13 years of Labour finished? Did the song lyrics come true and did things only get better, property-wise?

Since Tony Blair became prime minister on May 1 1997:

…UK house prices have risen 178% according to the Nationwide or 161% according to the Halifax;

…estate agency commission ranges have gone from 1.5% to 2.5% then, to 1% to 3% now, depending on location and contract;

…the owner-occupied sector has increased from 16m in 1997 to 17.5m now, although owner-occupation is now in gentle decline;

…the number of homes rented from councils or housing associations has fallen from 5.5m to 4.5m - despite social housing programmes, right-to-buy has continued to reduce council stock;

…the private rented sector has risen from 10% of UK housing stock (2.1m people), to 12% (2.6m);

…UK consumer prices have risen 37% according to the Office of National Statistics;

…annual stamp duty revenue to the Exchequer from house moves has risen from £607m to about £7 billion in 2007 and down to about £4 billion today;

…there have been nine housing ministers, some of them in office for only months – Hilary Armstrong (97-99); Nick Raynsford (99-01); Lord Falconer (01-02); Lord Rooker (02-03); Keith Hill (03-05); Yvette Cooper (05-08); Caroline Flint (08-08); Margaret Beckett (08-09); John Healey (09-10);

…the Blair family’s property portfolio has risen in value from an estimated £775,000 in 1997 to an estimated £8.3m today;

…petrol has risen from £2.63p a gallon to over £5 today;

…defence spending has risen 11% in real terms, after inflation, because of UK involvement in wars;

…the UK has gone from winning the Eurovision Song Contest (Katrina and the Waves, 1997) to 5th (Jade Ewan, 2009) via a lowest-ever 26th (Gemini, 2003).

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