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Help-To-Buy Scheme Could Threaten UK Housing Market

Help-To-Buy Scheme Could Threaten UK Housing Market

The Help To Buy Scheme Could Be Scaled Back Amid Concerns That The UK Property Market Could Be Heading
For Another Property Bubble

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that the Bank of England are being vigilant on UK house price rises and they would intervene if the situation becomes necessary.

The Chancellor’s comments come after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that the booming UK property market could threaten the economic recovery of the country.

Possible action could include reigning back the Government’s Help-To-Buy scheme, which enables people with only a small deposit to take out a mortgage.

In a report the OECD said that “The UK should introduce measures to address the risks of excessive house price inflation, as property values now significantly exceed long-term averages relative to rents and household incomes. Access to the Help to Buy scheme should be tightened, and buyers should be required to put down bigger deposits for mortgages”.

In response to the report, Mr Osborne said: “I’ve said we should be vigilant about the housing market and this Government has given the Bank of England the power and the tools to do what they felt needed to be done to help to contribute to building a resilient economy in an independent way”.

The Help to Buy scheme enables the Government to place a second charge on properties purchased under the scheme, allowing them to have some degree of profitability and allow them a small degree of control over the UK property market.

People buying property worth up to £600,000 (GBP) using a deposit of just 5% may be grateful of the Government’s help but many fail to realise the full implications of the scheme, or spot the Government tactic of controlling properties.

The Government either top up the purchasers 5% deposit with 20% of the property’s value or it will underwrite a portion of the debt allowing lenders to advance purchasers with high loan-to-value mortgages that the Government guarantee.

The £600,000 (GBP) upper limit of the Help-To-Buy scheme has been widely criticised for being too high, however, recent figures show that the average cost of a property bought using the scheme was just £148,000 (GBP).

Concerns are rife that another property bubble may be formed in the UK property market following a continuing run of positive house price trends.

Mortgage lender, Nationwide recently reported that property values had risen by 10.9% during the last 12 months, the first time annual house price inflation has reached double figures since April 2010.

Data from the Land Registry also shows that average property prices in London have already surpassed the previous 2007 peak.

Recent property price increases have caused the typical average cost of residential property in the UK to rise to £262,770 (GBP), according to Zoopla.

New regulations to control borrowing were introduced at the end of April 2014 to ensure prospective property owners are not risking taking on too much debt.

Under the Mortgage Market Review, lenders are required to carry out stringent affordability checks, including making sure borrowers can continue to meet the mortgage repayments if and when interest rates rise.

However, data on the number of mortgage approvals for residential property purchases appear to suggest that the market may be moderating, with the Bank of England reporting a dip in loan approvals for the second consecutive month during March 2014.

2 Million Foreign Investors Own UK Properties

2 Million Foreign Investors Own UK Properties

Foreign Property Investors Think UK Property Is A Safe Investment

According to the accountancy group – UHY Hacker Young, the number of foreign property investors owning UK property has now exceeded 2 million.

The accountancy group analysed HMRC data and discovered that the number of overseas property investors owning and renting out property in the UK private rented sector increased by 6% in the past 12 months to 2.04 Million, up from 1.93 Million in 2012.

In the past five years the number of foreign property investors owning UK PRS property has risen by 39%.

However, the accountancy group says that the consistent growth in the number of foreign investors targeting UK property may come to a halt following the Government’s recently announced plans to charge Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the sale of properties owned by foreign investors from April 2015. A move which could discourage foreign buyers from investing in UK property when the deadline comes in to force.

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UK Residential Property Prices Continue To Increase

UK Residential Property Prices Continue To Increase

UK Residential Property Prices Up For Seventh Month In A Row

Residential property prices in the UK have continued to increase for a seventh straight month in August, according to the latest house price index released by mortgage lender Halifax.

The growth in property prices suggest that the government initiative designed to kick start the property market is indeed working, to support the demand from willing first-time and next time residential property buyers, although there are fears that the UK could see another property bubble emerging, because property prices are rising so quickly.

Halifax said that residential property prices increased by 0.4% from July 2013 and were 5.4% higher than 2012, providing the UK residential property market with the biggest annual price increase since June 2010.

In July, residential property prices increased 0.9% from June 2013, and were up 4.6% from July 2012.

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Property industry reaction to 2013 budget

Property industry reaction to 2013 budget

George Osborne’s spring 2013 budget included new measures to help more people purchase their own homes and this news has been generally welcomed by property industry professionals.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer firmly believes that the measures announced in the spring budget will provide a major boost for the UK economy, despite calls for an economic U-turn from the Labour opposition.

Mr Osborne told the press that there were far more difficult decisions still to be made regarding the nation’s spending in order to get the overall deficit down, however, the government are taking measures to help people buy their own home.

The Chancellor announced that the FirstBuy scheme which was aimed at First-Time Buyers (FTB) on an income of up to £60,000 (GBP) per year, is being replaced with a ‘Help to Buy’ equity loan scheme available to all buyers looking to purchase a new build home up to a value of £600,000 (GBP), with a deposit of just 5%.

A new mortgage guarantee scheme was also announced during the spring budget, which extends the previous NewBuy Guarantee initiative to include older residential properties as well as new-build homes, which he hopes will result in a sharp rise in lending to potential homebuyers, thus kick starting an upturn in the UK property market. The new scheme will start in January 2014.

Buy to let mortgages are not going to be included under the new scheme, however it remains unclear if existing property owners will be able to purchase property without selling leaving them with an income producing property asset when they offer their old home for rental.

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Gross mortgage lending declined to an estimated £10.2 Billion (GBP) in April 2012.

Mortgage lending fell by 19% from £12.6 Billion (GBP) in March 2012 but was 2% higher than the total of £10.0 Billion (GBP) in April 2011, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

CML chief economist Bob Pannell comments:“Mortgage lending activity has been relatively buoyant in recent months, with stronger lending for house purchase underpinning the more upbeat lending picture. The underlying picture is likely to be a bit stronger than the April figure suggests, because some first-time buyers are likely to have brought forward their transactions to March 2012 to take advantage of the stamp duty concession that was coming to an end in March 2012. Eurozone developments remain highly uncertain and have the potential to undermine UK economic prospects and conditions in our housing and mortgage markets. The underlying picture is likely to be one of easing momentum in the housing market, but with potential for a sharper downwards correction on bad Eurozone news.”

ARLA calls for more investment in UK buy to let

ARLA Calls For More Investment In UK Buy-To-Let Property Rental Market

The Association of Residential Letting Agents, (ARLA), have urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to use the forthcoming Budget to encourage more investment into the UK’s Private Rented Sector, (PRS).

ARLA have called on the UK coalition Government to support the observed growth in the UK Buy-To-Let sector and remove many of the prohibitive barriers to further investment.

ARLA’s Budget submission calls for landlords to be treated as running businesses for Capital Gains Tax purposes, for the introduction of roll-over relief for landlords looking to reinvest, and for UK Stamp Duty to be made fairer.

UK landlords currently have to shop around for a wide range of landlord services in order to help them save money and operate as a business. The emergence of Tenant Referencing and Tenant Eviction services and the development of specialist Landlord Insurance products have ensured that there is still money to be made, by UK landlords, from the UK PRS rental market.

ARLA’s Operations Manager Ian Potter, said: “Buy To Let landlords must be treated as the entrepreneurial businesses they have now become. Supporting growth and encouraging greater investment into the private rented sector will help boost our economy and is an open goal for the Chancellor. Demand for private rented housing continues to grow, with 3.4 Million tenants living in the private rented sector – an increase of over 1 Million tenants since 2005. The tax system can be used by the Government to incentivise investment in housing stock in the PRS, and therefore improve the conditions in which those 3.4 Million tenants live. Some landlords face tax bills of up to 28% when selling a property, preventing them from reinvesting in the market.”

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Institutional Investment is needed in UK Buy To Let Sector

Institutional Investment is needed in UK Buy To Let Sector

The Council of Mortgage Lenders, (CML), think the coalition Government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne should be doing more to encourage institutional investors to take a stake in Buy To Let property in the upcoming Budget.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders are the trade body for all the UK’s major bank and building society residential mortgage lenders.

The CML claim encouraging pension funds and corporate investors is a neglected policy that could provide the cash for more UK homes that can be made available to rent.

The suggestion is part of a wide-ranging Budget review aimed at influencing the Chancellor to ease the mortgage market. The submission also criticises current housing policies, including:

• Stamp duty holidays for first time buyers, which the CML claims creates a boom and bust market around deadline dates
• Paying housing benefits direct to claimants may damage landlord cash flows and lead to unnecessary mortgage arrears and repossessions
• Making better use of housing stock as, the CML states, most of the homes available over the next 20 years have already been built

The CML has told the Chancellor that given the vulnerabilities and uncertainties, it is important to make sure that all avenues, for strengthening and diversifying funding structures, have been explored.

The CML have also noted that the government continues to explore the obstacles to greater institutional investment in the supply of private rental property, but, strangely, the further scope for promoting domestic institutional investor interest in mortgage assets seems to be a neglected area of policy.

The Budget report also points out that UK banks and building societies rely heavily on raising funds from wholesale markets which are currently challenged by the Eurozone debt problems.

“Funding costs remain higher than a year ago, and the UK remains vulnerable to future eurozone developments. Given that current market conditions are somewhat fragile, it is very important that other government policies do not undermine housing market sentiment more generally. We believe that there are a few areas where policies are not as well aligned as they could be.” says the CML.

The CML’s calls echo the sentiment of many existing UK landlords who have had to search for a variety of additional landlord services such as insurance, tenant referencing and tenant eviction services from private sector specialist suppliers, in order to remain in a profitable situation.

With institutional investment into the UK private rented sector (PRS) specialist products and services for landlords will be enhanced for the corporate market and derivatives would be more affordable and even more readily available.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has decided not to extend the Stamp Duty holiday for First Time Buyers, (FTB)  provoking fury from critics with accusations of undermining the Government’s attempt to kick start the UK housing market.

The Government decision comes despite massive lobbying from the mortgage and estate agency industries and various organisations, including the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Nationwide, Legal & General.

The Government, however, says the Stamp Duty break has proved to be ineffective and it will end on March 24th 2012 as planned.

The Government has stated that they intend to produce proof of how the Stamp Duty holiday has not worked and will instead concentrate on other measures announced in its new housing strategy, notably its controversial mortgage indemnity scheme on which it has now unveiled a few more details.

The Chancellor revealed that the Government will underwrite the 95% mortgage scheme, which is available only for new-build purchases, by up to £1bn.

The Autumn Statement said: “The Government will take on a contingent liability which will build up in line with purchases under the scheme, to a maximum of £1bn.”

Under the scheme, taxpayers will be responsible for 5.5% of the value of each home purchased. Builders will put 3.5% of the value of each home sold under the scheme into a funding pot, which will be called upon by lenders if the properties are repossessed at a loss.

The initiative aims to help 100,000 households purchase a new-build home with a 5% deposit.

It is unclear how many first-time buyers have succeeded in getting on to the housing ladder because of the current Stamp Duty holiday, although evidence is that they have melted away.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) warned that ending the Stamp Duty holiday could distort the market with a mini boom and bust.

A RICS spokesman said: “By choosing to end the relief in four months rather than immediately, there is a clear risk that there will be a spike followed by a dip in the housing market as buyers rush to take advantage of the relief before March. It was hardly surprising that the Stamp Duty break had failed to help first-time buyers, given the lack of affordable mortgages and homes on the market”.

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