bormida

UK house prices fell in Q1, according to the Halifax Index, but the narrative that UK house prices will go up in the long run has not altered. But, take a look at a town in a picturesque spot near Genoa, and a different story emerges.

According to the latest Halifax housing index, house prices in the three months to April fell by 0.2 per cent. This is significant because the three-monthly rate is meant to give a feel for the underlying trend – which is negative, apparently.

This is no surprise, a recent survey from the Nationwide saw a month on month fall in house prices, and the Residential Market Survey from RICS has been hovering around a level that points to only very modest rises for some time.

But the general feeling seems to be that this is a hiccup – 2017 may not be a great year for house prices, but neither is it an awful year

Hansen Lu, Property Economist, at Capital Economics said: "The latest drop in prices doesn’t look like the start of a housing market correction," and "we expect to see annual house price growth cool a little further in 2017. But barring a major shock, sustained sizable falls in prices seem unlikely."

Looking for an explanation is not rocket science. There is a shortage of new homes – we keep being told.

Meanwhile, in Italy in the town of Bormida, situated in the mountains in the Liguria region, things look very different. Indeed, judging by the images of the place it looks rather pleasant.

But, Bormida has a population of 394. It is in danger of becoming a ghost town. Things have become so desperate that the mayor is offering 2,000 euros to anyone that wants to move there. And the rent is just £40 a month.

But drill down. There isn’t really a shortage of homes at all, not Europe wide, just in the UK.

In the era of augmented reality, supporting working remotely, that is approaching, and maybe hyperloop promoting long distance travel, living in Bormida, and working in the UK does not have to be a problem.

There is no shortage of homes.

But what there is, however, is a government that wants to cut immigration to the UK to the tens of thousands.

That may or may not be a good idea, but just recall, immigration is a two-way process

We are told that the UK has around 3 million EU immigrants, but the EU has just one million or So UK migrants and that is not symmetrical.

But the EU has a major demographic crisis in the making, creating an over-supply of property, that means that the migration flow between the UK and EU may be set to reverse, and Brit, may be able to take advantage of technology and work in the EU. Err, maybe not. Not if the UK chooses now to change the arrangement, just before the benefits of immigration may be about to swing the other way.