Earlier this week, Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the Autumn Budget with a strong focus on housing.
The decision to cut stamp duty for first-time buyers has hogged the majority of headlines, but there were numerous other housing measures announced. These included a pledge to build an additional 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, powers for local authorities to charge 100% council tax premium on empty properties and another consultation on longer tenancies in the private rented sector.
Next up for the Chancellor is the first Spring Statement in early 2018. In the meantime, here is a round-up of the industry’s reaction to Philip Hammond’s address, with comment from agents, trade bodies and suppliers to the property industry.
On the stamp duty cut for first-time buyers:
Simon Gerrard, former president of NAEA Propertymark and managing director of Martyn Gerrard:
"While on the surface stamp duty exemption for some may seem like a gift, it fails to consider the fact that second steppers, who will be moving out of the homes first time buyers wish to live in, are in exactly the same situation.
“If they aren’t moving out and up the chain then what are these first-time buyers going to purchase?"
"The government is still taxing property aspiration – a fact that could have been addressed by a stamp duty switch from buyer to seller, which I have suggested in multiple letters to the government and wouldn’t cost them a penny. We should start calling stamp duty what it is – a property purchase tax."
Rob Weaver, director of property at Property Partner:
"While first-time buyers will welcome the stamp duty reform, we should take a step back before getting too carried away. In reality, this will only benefit individuals at the margin, potentially empowering them to pay a little bit more which could push up prices further."
"The headline looks better than the reality."
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark:
"The announcement to abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers will have a positive impact on the market. It’s a smart move to ensure the dream of homeownership for young people can become a reality and will help buyers across the UK, including London and the South East where property prices are higher."
Nick Leeming, chairman at Jackson-Stops:
“I do feel the Chancellor has missed a trick by failing to reduce stamp duty levels across the board. First home owners generally want to move up the ladder, to larger homes as their circumstances change and families expand."
"Stamp duty levels have acted as a brake across the entire market preventing the likes of downsizers and second-steppers from making their moves."
"The housing market must be viewed as a whole and comprehensive stamp duty reform would have increased overall fluidity to the benefit of all buyers.”
On the government's housebuilding plans:
Doug Crawford, chief executive of My Home Move:
"Britain needs to build, and while a new funding package for UK property development is a stride in the right direction, it will only help tackle our housing crisis if it is invested in the right places."
"The UK has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for affordable housing stock over recent years and it is vital that increased investment is used wisely to tackle such depleted supply."
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp in the UK:
"'Fixing' the housing market has become a stock phrase for the current administration and therefore an announcement committing to more homes as part of the Budget comes as no real surprise.”
"We'd be interested to know if the government has plans to help increase the stock of private rental homes as the demand for these properties continues to rise. We would also like to see an update from the government on its Build to Rent project and the progress made so far."
Michelle Niziol, chief executive of IMS Property Group:
"While the range of housebuilding measures announced will go some way to aiding the delivery of the government’s target of an additional 300,000 homes each year, it is disappointing that the Chancellor did not take the opportunity to announce greater reforms to the country’s archaic planning system, which is a major barrier and constraint for many SME developers."
"It needs to be much simpler and more cost effective."
David Westgate, group chief executive at Andrews Property Group:
"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."
"This is a very complex subject and isn’t just a case of building more properties. 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."
On the proposed consultation for longer tenancies in the PRS:
James Davis, founder of Upad:
"While longer tenancies aren’t exactly new, the fact that a consultation will now take place should be welcomed."
"I’ve personally agreed many three or even five-year tenancies and have found that they offer me far greater security and peace of mind, compared to regular six-monthly turnovers of tenants."
"That said, a certain level of flexibility will need to be employed so that any investor with a loan or loans against [their] portfolio isn’t penalised by tenancy agreements of longer than three years as this could limit [their] financing options."
Dominic Martin, head of operations, Atlas Residential:
"The government’s push for longer-term tenancies is very welcome news for the build to rent sector and for our customers – the UK’s renters."
"Providing the customer with greater flexibility and security through long-term tenancies is a positive step forward for the rental market and an acknowledgement that the customer should remain firmly at the heart of everything we do – these are people’s homes."
Vidhur Mehra, finance director, Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings:
"This will be the 16th consultation initiated by the government on different rental issues so far in 2017 - and if past examples are indicative, there will be no change ‘on the ground’ for some years because of lengthy processes of consultation and law-making."