Brokers think Help to Buy should be for first-time buyers only

Michael Lloyd

October 29, 2018

Some 56% of brokers think the Help to Buy scheme has had a largely positive impact andmany think it should be restricted to first-time buyers only, United Trust Bank’s Broker Sentiment poll has found.

Only 11% thought it had an overall negative impact and 33% thought its result was neutral.

About 27% thought it should be restricted to buyers with an annual household income lower than £75,000 in London and £60,000 in the rest of the country, followed by 25% suggesting special dispensation available to public sector workers such as NHS, police and fire department.

Noel Meredith, executive director, United Trust Bank, said: “We agree with a majority of brokers responding to this poll that the Help to Buy initiatives have been broadly positive and we would also be keen to see the scheme extended beyond the current 2021 end date.

“Help to Buy has assisted thousands of people who may otherwise have been unable to get on to the property ladder to buy their own home.

“It has also provided support to developers, many of them SMEs, by offering their prospective purchasers a tangible financial helping hand and I have no doubt that Help to Buy has boosted activity in the starter homes sector and encouraged house builders to develop more of the homes we need to overcome the UK’s housing shortage.

“Some of the suggestions for changes to the criteria make sense. Much of the criticism of HtB has come from the view that some of the people taking advantage of it are not the originally intended beneficiaries of the scheme.”

Some 24% thought the scheme should be estricted to maximum property values of £400,000 in London and £250,000 in the rest of the country.

Furthermore 18% believed a Help to Buy Capital Gains Tax should be introduced where buyers must pay a 10% tax on any increase in value if they sell the home within five years.

And 11% thought the scheme should only available on genuine ‘new build’ homes – not conversions or homes created under permitted development rights.

A recent study by company Reallymoving.com found that the average price paid for a property using HtB over the last year was £278,000 compared to £257,000 for transactions which did not use HtB. This takes into account the 16% premium new homes have over older homes.

Meredith added: “Some interpret this as the scheme enabling purchasers to buy higher value homes at the tax-payer’s expense so reducing the maximum property value limit and household income limit may go some way to answering the critics.

“The benefits of having special allowances which help NHS and emergency services personnel to live near their place of work would also be hard to dispute.

“Whatever the future holds for Help to Buy, UTB remains committed to supporting projects put forward by experienced house builders who can demonstrate knowledge of their market, knowledge of their customers and have a proven ability to deliver successful developments.”

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