Dragon’s Den Star Aims To “Kick-Start Property Market”. Why?

Gordon Brown and James Caan

I was reading an article earlier about Dragon’s Den star James Caan’s new scheme to offer homebuyers an interest-free loan to cover the stamp duty on their new property.

Caan is offering interest-free loans of up to £50,000 to be paid back over a period of between 2 to 3 years and says “the housing market needs stimulation, it needs a kick-start, and we believe that offering interest-free loans is the sort of catalyst that is needed”.

The comments on the Guardian article are at their usual cynical best, and are far from complimentary about the new scheme, this was a particular favourite quote, from user “ButteredBalls“:

Hi James, My name’s butterball, Let me tell you where I am. It’s a cynical, crap idea and for that reason, I’m out.

Probably a pretty fair statement. To get the loan, you’ll have to go through a participating estate agent, and you’ll also have to use a specific law firm for conveyancing. So there’s a chance that you’ll end up paying more for these than you would if you could choose your own – there’s definitely more to this scheme than being just a philanthropic exercise.

Although the details of the scheme are questioned, the other focus for the dislike of the idea is around the reason for wanting to kick-start the property market in the first place. Many think that house prices are still in a bubble, and whilst there has certainly been some deflation of that bubble, it might still need bursting in order the brin ghouse prices back into line with earnings.

There’s plenty of comment out there suggesting that property prices might still fall even further or at best stagnate, with recent rises being put down to a shortage of supply, rather than an increase in demand.

As a slight aside to this issue, I’m probably not the only person wondering about the reasons for the multi-millionaire Dragons wanting to appear on what is to some extent a game show.

Granted, they get to invest in some decent ideas, possibly before any others get to hear about them, but it’s all a little hit and miss. And no doubt the publicity helps their businesses – although can you name any that Peter Jones or Deborah Meaden owns?

I’ve always thought that if I ran a successful business empire I’d want to keep it very much under the radar for fear of drawing in competition, but they obviously have different ideas, and perhaps they think it’s worth doing “trivial” stuff such as Dragon’s Den or scooting around on a shopping trolley to boost their personal brands, more so than the businesses they run.

Perhaps working for the BBC and pimping themselves in advertising pays better than their business interests?

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