It’s a substantial Tory government for the next five years: what does this mean for estate agents, property and the market?
We have assembled 11 of the industry’s leading figures to give their views on the new government’s pledges over stamp duty, agency reform, house building and much more.
Do you feel the same? The election debate may be over but you can still comment on whether you agree or disagree.
Thanks to all those contributing and to our readers for giving the time for this - and welcome to the next five years…
Lisa Simon, head of residential at Carter Jonas: “The Conservative plans for longer-term mortgages to help reduce the amount of budding homeowners have to front is admirable, however, many banks offer longer-term mortgages and fixed rates already – so more detail on what this looks like will prove whether or not this can make any genuine change.”
Guy Gittins, managing director of Chestertons: “We would like to see the responsibility for Right to Rent checks removed from landlords and their managing agents and handed over to local authorities.
“We have serious reservations concerning the proposed repealing of Assured Shorthold Tenancies which, if implemented would mean that Section 21 notices would no longer be permitted. The changes would make the length of all tenancies uncertain and many landlords would dispose of their properties or leave them to sit empty, rather than have to commit to potentially indefinite tenancies. This could lead to a huge decline in the number of available rental properties, which would have a catastrophic effect on those most in need of housing.
“Instead, we have asked the government to consider introducing mandatory longer term tenancies, which would achieve the desired aim to provide security for tenants, enabling them to ‘put down roots’, but also allow landlords to maintain a satisfactory level of control over their rental properties.”
Camilla Dell, managing partner at Black Brick: “The Conservative pledge to increase stamp duty for overseas buyers by three per cent - which would increase the top rate paid on the most expensive properties to 18 per cent - would be a negative for prime London property.
"It is unlikely to deter buyers at the top end of the market, who continue to benefit from weak sterling and substantial price falls. However, it could well put off middle class overseas investors in somewhat cheaper properties, many of whom invested in new-build apartments on a buy to let basis.
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer at PropTech company PayProp: “The manifesto pledge to scrap Section 21, introduce lifetime deposits and ‘strengthen your rights of possession’ for good landlords has the potential to do a lot of good and build bridges between government, agents, tenants and landlords.
"However, any government should be under no illusion that, to make policies like this work, it will require participation from the industry. I think the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) report did a lot to raise the importance of the growing rental sector. I would like to see the new government continue to consult the industry, as the sector moves towards being a regulated profession."
Jeremy Leaf, former RICS residential chairman and an estate agency owner: “It’s all very well to aspire to building 300,000 new homes a year as all the main political parties seem to agree on but I haven’t seen enough evidence lately that we will even approach that figure in the near future.
"A much more radical approach to lending and planning policies will be required to make a difference which may include some relaxing some of the rules covering the least attractive parts of the green belt in areas of highest demand.
"And on what basis will the Conservatives offer first-time buyers 30 per cent discounts on new-build homes in their area? There’s still not enough detail on type of new homes and/or incentives for developers to purchase publicly-owned land at below market price for these homes.
"A Property Ombudsman for new build to arbitrate if disputes arise rather than ending up in Court would be a good idea."
Sherrelle Collman, managing director of Caridon Landlord Solutions: “I have grave concerns about [scrapping Section 21] not just for landlords but also for tenants. We rely on our private landlords to bridge the gap in social housing and this will undoubtedly push some landlords to take the decision to exit the market. The knock-on effect from that will be fewer properties for tenants, higher rents and a greater reluctance to let to those on housing benefit.
“I’d also like to see some dramatic improvements to Universal Credit to make direct payments to landlords quicker and more efficient, as well as fairer implementation of the Benefit Assessment Period, which when not coordinated correctly with tenancy agreements can catch landlords and tenants out, costing them nearly a whole month’s rent.”
Martin Bikhit, managing director at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co, comments: “Although the Conservatives have pledged to increase stamp duty by a further three per cent for international buyers, when you compare it with other countries globally such as Australia and New Zealand, the tax rate is still lower and therefore, London is still an attractive option for overseas buyers.”
Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of safeagent: “We would have liked a greater emphasis on prosecuting landlords and agents who continue flout the law. Only by driving out the criminal element with proper regulation and enforcement that has teeth, will consumers have confidence and security when they rent a home.”
And on the work of a new housing minister: “Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement! Any new Minister needs to take stock of the considerable amount of legislation which has already been introduced over the last few years. The legislation is there, now it’s about proper, effective enforcement.”
Trevor Abrahmsohn, founder of estate agency Glentree International: “The Help To Buy initiative has had a formative effect on assisting the less privileged gain a foothold on the property ladder, which they may not have been able to do otherwise. I have to say, that it probably has helped the house builders at the same time, who would otherwise have a liquidity problem, hence the buoyant shares of the usual suspects in this sector.
“Extending this would be a good idea as would any other government-backed scheme that assists former tenants invest their money in owning a property. As the tide comes in it lifts all boats and if prices rise, debt shrinks in relation to equity, which is no bad thing.”
Emma Vigus, managing director of PropTech company mio: “Fiscal incentives, in the form of tax breaks should then be used to encourage landlords to maintain good quality properties with further incentives being available to landlords who are actively addressing issues relating to energy efficiency. We need to ensure that tenants and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities which, ironically will only become more complicated if we introduce more regulation.
“We will not tackle the problems we have through a succession of short lived, poorly thought out pledges which change every time there’s a new party in power or a new minister in role.”
Shaun Drummond, director and general manager at Harrods Estates: “We’re very disappointed to hear of the Conservative Party’s pledge to increase stamp duty to 18 per cent for overseas buyers. This increase would create further obstacles and reduce the appeal for overseas buyers to invest in London property.
"It is important to note that not all overseas buyers are simply property investors; a lot of people living abroad wish to buy in the UK as they are relocating for work, looking to secure a home for children who will be attending university, or in some cases, choosing to move to the UK permanently.”