Concerned South Shields property expert calls for housing minister to visit region

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A LEADING property expert from South Tyneside has backed a call for the Government’s housing minister to visit the North East to see for himself how national housing policy often overlooks the region.

Ajay Jagota, of South Shields-based sales and lettings firm KIS, believes national policies like Help to Buy have helped get the North East housing market moving again but London-centric measures like the Mortgage Market Review may have “slammed on the brakes”.

Bill Midgley, Chair of Newcastle-based Leazes Homes, last week accused the Government of neglecting housing in the North East and not understanding the region’s problems.

Inviting housing minister Brandon Lewis MP to the region, he said: “We have a very specific situation here in the North East and successive London-centric policies have failed to acknowledge this over recent years.”

Mr Jagota wrote to then-Housing Minister Kris Hopkins MP in July to invite him to the region and repeated the offer to Mr Lewis when he succeeded him in the role later that month.

His concern is that new rules, known as the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) and introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority in April to ensure that borrowers could afford to pay back loans, would make it harder for people in the region to get mortgages.

Mortgage approvals have subsequently fallen by 16 per cent.

He said: “This summer the North East housing market was as strong as it has been in at least six years.

“Then it began to slow down. In the past two months it’s shrunk.

“I’m fully behind most national housing policy but the Mortgage Market Review seems to have slammed on the brakes again in the North East.

“I warned Brandon Lewis that treating London problems as a national ones would cool the entire economy, and it’s starting to look that I was right.

“That’s why it’s important that Brandon Lewis comes to the region to see what the situation is on the ground, and to hear from people like Bill Midgely and myself about how the Government can target polices and resources better.”

KIS manages properties and has branches across Tyne and Wear, and was named Letting Agent of the Year in the 2013 Landlord and Letting Awards.

The firm expanded into residential sales in 2014.