Theresa May’s Conservative Party Conference speech has certainly given rise to some ‘cautious optimism’ about what Philip Hammond will announce for the housing sector.
Following May’s speech, we can say two things for certain: an extra £2 billion is being injected into affordable housing, and an extra £10 billion for the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, helping first-time buyers secure home ownership with as little as a 5% deposit.
It is this latter measure which is likely to have an impact on advisors and their business. The scheme has already supported 130,000 purchasers since it began in 2013, 81% of being first-time buyers in Q2 2017. With this new funding, the scheme could help a further 135,000 people onto the property ladder by 2021. There is a variety of Help to Buy loan schemes out there, including our latest range with rates starting from 3.89% with a 75% LTV.
Schemes like Help to Buy have gone a long way to helping many younger buyers achieve their dreams of homeownership, but when it comes to creating a fair housing market for the future, there is more the Government must do.
A cut or exemption of Stamp Duty for first-time buyers would certainly be a welcome measure, removing one of the big barriers to homeownership for the next generation of buyers.
However, the big issue remains housing supply. Equity loan schemes and tax incentives are definitely moves in the right direction, but more housing is needed to meet the demand fuelled by these schemes.
The best advice, though, is not to look a gift horse in the mouth – and that goes for both intermediaries and their clients. Help to Buy has already helped hundreds of thousands onto the housing ladder – and the extra money is far better than offering no solution at all.
By all means, let’s hope the government will use the Budget and take steps to resolve supply and address the worryingly low levels of house building. But, let’s not ignore what is on offer right now, or forget the fact that interest rates remain at a historic low.