Categorized | Construction

Will the end of Help to Buy cause new homes to fall in price?

Posted on 18 October 2016 by editor

A recent study by the financial times has indicated that the Government Help to Buy Scheme has increased the prices of new homes by up to £19,000 in some areas. With the exception to London, where the scheme has had little impact. The aim of the scheme was to help first time buyers onto the property market, but also help out homeowners who want to go up the property ladder and buy something bigger. So what happens now the Help to Buy Scheme is coming to an end? Many homebuilders have asked for the scheme to continue, but Prime Minister Teresa May has reiterated that the scheme will come to an end.

I am currently in the market for a new home in the region of 300,000. I have registered my interest with several homebuilders, expressing my interest in properties that are to be completed towards the end of summer 2017. Where developers normally have a lead time of 6 months, I am getting calls now. This suggests that they are aware that prices of new homes will fall, because the number of people being able to afford the next step up on the ladder will dwindle. So they are trying to secure deals at current market prices. What’s more, the house that I was interested in, had previously sold at £299,000 – this has now risen to £340,000 – a whopping 13% rise in 10 months.

I have no plans to use the Help to Buy Scheme. So I plan to wait until the New Year to see if new homes will fall in price. Think about it logically. You want to buy a home for £100,000. Currently, with Help to Buy, you need a minimum 5% deposit, 75% mortgage and a 20% loan from the Government. Without the 20% loan from the Government, the house would not be affordable. So two things can happen: A) Fewer people will be able to afford to buy, or B) The price of new homes will have to fall to align itself with the reality of mortgage only borrowing. Either way, developers lose out. I am certainly no economist, but if the Help to Buy Scheme has caused the cost of new homes to inflate, the end of the scheme is likely to cause it to deflate.

The Help to Buy Scheme was really a false economy. Some may say it’s irresponsible lending on the Governments part because they are allowing homeowners to achieve greater levels of borrowing, but at a 20% equity stake in their home. What’s more whilst it is billed as interest free, this is not the case. It’s only interest free for 5 years, after this time 1.75% interest is accrued. If you sell your home and you have not repaid the loan, the government will take their 20% stake in your property. Given the rise in house prices over the past 5 years, their 20% stake will be considerably more than the amount you originally borrowed. For example: If you purchased a home for £150,000, borrowing £40,000 from the Government, and it later sold for £210,000, you’d get £168,000 (80% – less any outstanding mortgage) and you’d pay back £42,000 on the loan (20%). You’d need to pay off your mortgage with your share of the money.

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