London Help to Buy increases deemed reckless

Mon, 21 Dec 2015

London Help to Buy increases deemed reckless
The expanded loans set to become available in April 2016 under the Help to Buy schemes have been slated by the director of an affordable house price campaign.

"It is hard to imagine a more reckless, short-termist measure," said Duncan Scott, the director of Priced Out. Research by estate agent Savills sparked his cutting outcry, which looked into the figures behind the new Help to Buy London Equity Loan limit, announced by Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

Under the new rules, those in the London area, where prices are the highest, first time buyers will have to supply at least 5 per cent of the property value as a deposit, while the government will lend up to 40 per cent of the value.

This will leave buyers only needing to gather a mortgage worth 55 per cent.

With a cap on London prices through the scheme being set at £600,000, the equity loans could mount up to a lot of money.

This is what Mr Scott is worried about. "All that will happen is that more debt will pour into the London housing market, which will inflate London house prices even further an create an even tougher situation for future first time buyers.

"It is the taxpayer who will be underwriting this extra debt , so all of us will be on the hook if the London house price bubble bursts."

This is, of course, a very helpful scheme for the people of London who manage to use it to get onto the property ladder. But with average house prices in the capital reportedly reaching above the £600,000 cap in at least four boroughs (Camden and Westminster among them), it may get to the point where no amount of government boosting will be able to get people their first home.

Unfortunately, the Help to Buy schemes haven't brought the prices of homes down, and the building market hasn't been stimulated enough to the point that supply has caught up with demand. In order to bring the market down to affordable levels, more homes need to be built, and there is little apparent motivation or ability to do so in the building sectors.
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