AUTUMN STATEMENT – A CASE OF MIXED BLESSINGS FOR THE PROPERTY MARKET

30.10.18

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement delivered mixed blessings for the property industry. The introduction of a tax break for home sales to long-term tenants will serve as a much-needed push of confidence. Giving long-term tenants the opportunity to purchase their property of residence will play its part in reversing the decline of homeownership as well as improving rental conditions as one-third of ‘Generation Rent’ may never be able to buy a property. A case of glad tidings (albeit tempered) for estate agents.

A helping hand has also been given to get more first-time buyers on the property ladder, with stamp duty relief of shared ownership homes up to £500,000. With the average house price decreasing around the nation, it’s a step in the right direction. The Chancellor, however, has once again side-lined older homeowners. Releasing them from the burden of stamp duty would provide an incentive to move, generating some much needed confidence and renewed liquidity across property price ranges.

The stamp duty increase of 1% for homebuyers who don’t pay tax in Britain, has the potential to work both in favour and against market dynamics. With high levels of investment coming from East Asia in regions such as Birmingham, Liverpool, and London, this will likely have a knock-on effect on overall transaction levels. Foreign Direct Investment is essential, but at the same time we can’t let this work to the disadvantage of potential domestic homebuyers, who simply can’t compete. The increase in stamp duty for foreign investors therefore stands to help first-time buyers and second steppers to penetrate the market in a less competitive climate.

Lifting the cap on the amount of money local authorities are able to borrow to build housing has been well received. Giving power back to local councils to build social housing in the regions has the potential to provide ‘growth-spurt’ infrastructure which local economies can leverage to best effect.

The review was relatively light on announcements for landlords and the private rented sector. The expansion of the housing infrastructure fund may also prove important, but it remains to be seen how an increase in housebuilding will impact the built-to-rent sector.

Similarly, the issue of land banking is a key sticking point in the sector and, a crucial element in the so-called ‘housing crisis’, but we’ll have to wait for the Treasury’s response to the Letwin Report to understand how the government intends to address the issue.

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