Housing may have taken centre stage in the Budget but most of the industry appears to remain sceptical of whether the measures will, in combination, do much to solve the most pressing issues.
“It’s deeply disappointing that the rest of the stamp duty spectrum was not reduced. There are a few points to consider: will this £300,000 to £500,000 maximum limit produce a cliff edge creating dead zones and property price chasms, making it hard for many to breach? Downsizers, whom we desperately need to move to free up larger housing stock, are not at a competitive disadvantage as they may be looking at the same properties as a FTB, but will have to pay more” explains Charles Curran, principal and data analyst at estate agency Maskells.
Nick Leeming, chairman at Jackson-Stops, says: “Without concerted efforts to build more homes, accompanied with a resulting uptick in housing completions, the change to stamp duty is a sticking plaster on our broken housing market. Similarly, penalising empty home owners with a 100 per cent council tax premium is unlikely to really be a deterrent for people who are likely to be high net worth. If they don’t need the rent, this penalty probably won’t bother them either.”
But there was some support from David Westgate, chief executive of Andrews Property Group, who said: “The Chancellor’s pledge to guarantee that 300,000 new homes are built each year is to be welcomed. A lack of supply is currently skewing the market and has for a long while needed to be addressed. … To successfully achieve this, we need to start with an assurance that the planning system is fit for purpose and won’t encroach the realisation of this much needed target.”
Amongst suppliers there was backing for the first time buyers’ stamp duty initiative from the creators of The ValPal Network automated valuation system, Angels Media (which is also publisher of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today).
“Finally some joined up thinking from the government. This is a fantastic boost to the housing market alongside the recent announcement that the Help to Buy scheme will be getting a financial boost to the tune of £10 billion” says ValPal Network director Craig Vile.
“However, there is still a significant supply and demand imbalance of housing and while abolishing stamp duty has the 'wow factor' and will have a big impact on first time buyers, it does not tackle the long-term fundamental issues faced by the UK housing market. The government needs to deliver on its commitment today to support infrastructure to the housing industry and deliver on the 300,000 new homes a year that it is promising” he adds.
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of the UK arm of Proptech firm PayProp, says he is wary about whether the stamp duty cut will help the market’s more fundamental problems.
“Incentivising first-time buyers further is no bad thing, but the fact remains that it is the limited number of homes available which is pushing up house prices and ultimately stopping people from getting on the property ladder” he says.
“It could be more beneficial to focus on downsizing and planning laws to help free up much-needed stock for both owner-occupiers and private renters, rather than trying to help the younger generations buy property when it's clear that many are happy to rent for longer” says Cobbold.