The government is being urged to “do more” to ensure the housing market is able to overcome the impact of Brexit.
Online mortgage broker Mortgages.online is calling on the Chancellor to take further steps in his Spending Round to stimulate the market amid Brexit uncertainty, pointing to the buy-to-let market as the one that requires focus.
Stamp duty in particular needed revisiting it stated after a surcharge of 3 per cent was introduced for second homes in April 2016, closely followed by cuts to mortgage interest tax relief for landlords.
Paul Flavin, managing director of mortgages.online, said: “The increased stamp duty payable on buy to let purchases, and the removal of the ability to offset mortgage costs has put many investors off the property market, with a knock on effect of reducing the stock of rental properties.
“We would encourage the Chancellor to look again at the negative impact these measures have.”
He added that Brexit fears had helped create a general lack of confidence and depressed values, exacerbated by valuers being cautious.
Mr Flavin said: “We have two basic messages for the Chancellor. Relief for buy to let investors and measures to stabilise the economy with clarity once and for all on Brexit, are both needed urgently.
“The alternative is for a continuance of a depressed housing market which is healthy neither for the economy nor the government if an election is on the horizon.”
The call comes after research found a record number of landlords are planning to sell rental property in the next 12 months as their profitability has fallen for the third successive quarter.
Meanwhile yesterday (August 28) the government announced measures to make it easier for people to get on the housing ladder with Help to Buy.
Under the changes, which are taking effect immediately, people will be able to take out longer mortgages than the current 25-year terms.
The move reflects change in the wider mortgage market, where the number of first-time buyers taking out a mortgage of more than 30 years has doubled in the last decade.
Housing minister, Esther McVey MP, said: “We are determined to open up the dream of home ownership to the next generation and our Help to Buy schemes have already been used more than 500,000 times by families to get a leg up onto the property ladder.
“I want our Help to Buy scheme to work for homeowners so we are giving people the freedom and flexibility to take out longer mortgages, if it suits their needs.”
Mr Flavin said: “The extension to 35 years will help many borrowers as their monthly payments will reduce but the Chancellor will need to do more in the Autumn Statement on 4 September if the housing market is to overcome its Brexit blues.”
The government also announced reforms to shared ownership rules that allow homeowners to increase their share at increments of 1 per cent rather than the current 10 per cent.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “We support thinking creatively about ways to help first time buyers on to the housing ladder and consumers will welcome the opportunity to increase their share of ownership more easily and to simplify the process by which they can sell their homes.
“Government must be careful of the unintended consequences that any changes to Help to Buy could have on the rest of the market as in many cases these are not properties that feed into the general market place but into a ‘cul de sac’ with no assistance to upward activity”.
The Treasury has been approached for comment.
By Jennifer Turton
Source: FT Adviser