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Anthony Capstick

Business, technology and broadband issues.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

The housing market is driving onwards and upwards - just how long for is difficult to call. In the spirit of speculation I've given it a go........

The two most important factors at play right now are the numbers of people in the buy to let market and the level of interest rates. When interest rates rise, the overheads for all buy to let investors will increase sharply. Afterall, a 1% rise in interest rates when they are at 4% is a 25% increase - 2% a 50% increase. As interest rates rise, buy to let investors will begin to sell their properties as there are too many flats on the market chasing too few tennants. The combination of lack of rental income combined with increased overheads (higher interest rates) will force many people to sell. In so doing prices will come down.

The main sector this will have an affect on is the 2 bed flat market, and expect the biggest falls in that sector of the market towards the end of this year and early next. Good bargains will be available to anyone with the nerve to buy then.
The falls in technology stocks over the last few days are good for anyone interested in business that makes sense. What I understand is making a profit from an investment. So at my company Instant Search, we look at what return we expect to receive from an outlay. For example, if a mailshot costs 1,500 to put together and send out, we expect to receive back in at least 3,000 - double the cost of the initial outlay.

Any return by the stockmarket to business fundamentals will be good for the business community as a whole. Businesses will cost less to buy, as outrageous multiples will no longer be expected. That means anyone wanting to start up in business will be able to do so for much less, as established businesses will change hands for a fraction of what they have been doing. Furthermore, there will be no incentive to pour vast amounts of capital into a company, in the hope that profits will in the future will be reflected in the worth of the company. Investment will, then, only be made when it is possible to make a return on that investment. No dreaming of multi-millions, just a down-to-earth expectation based on reasonable inputs.

One analyst put it well, when he said that his firm had gone back to investing in companies dealing in the basics: eating, drinking, smoking and clothing. The sooner we can add technology businesses to the list, the better it will be for all of us in hi-tech businesses. How fast we can forget Dot-Com mania will dictate when our sector begins to get healthy again.