Chancellor Philip Hammond has a spring in his step as the nation’s financial health has not only survived the winter chills better than expected, it is positively blooming.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that borrowing is now at its lowest level since the financial crisis. An improvement in the global economy has also helped Britain, with GDP growth for 2017 coming in at 1.7%, up from the 1.5% predicted.
So Mr Hammond gave an update on the Autumn Budget, which abolished Stamp Duty for first-time buyers on properties under £300,000. Approximately 60,000 people had benefited from this move.
He confirmed that London will receive £1.67bn to build 27,000 affordable homes by 2022, and that the Housing Growth Partnership which provides financial support for small housebuilders, will be more than doubled to £220m.
And there are a few changes in the offing that will make an impact on the property market in the near future:
• Improving the buying and selling process – at the end of last year, the government launched a Call for Evidence on this issue and has been analysing the responses from industry professionals. Mr Hammond says the Housing Minister, Dominic Raab, will make further announcements in the near future. This could lead to a shakeup in the approach to buying and selling houses.
• Spike expected in buy-to-let remortgages – many landlords will have taken out 2-year fixed mortgages in April 2016, just before the 3% stamp duty surcharge was introduced. They will now be looking to renew.
• Increase in interest rates – it is expected that these might edge up in May. However, data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows that more than half the mortgages in the country are on a fixed rate, which will shield many homeowners from any immediate impact.
• Relief for tenants postponed – the planned ban on letting agencies charging up-front fees to prospective tenants was due to come in some time this year. However, it now looks as though it will not happen until spring 2019.
“So, we spring into the house buying season with no significant setbacks from the government. This is positive news for both buyers, sellers and the industry as a whole,” says Marin Bikhit, Managing Director of Kay & Co.
“Economic conditions are showing marked improvements, and the sun usually brings the buyers out, so we are ready to greet the season with optimism.”
• Martin Bikhit, Managing Director of Kay & Co has more than 20 years’ experience in the prime and super-prime property sectors.
• Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties for sale or to rent in Marylebone, Bayswater, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Fitzrovia, Regents Park and The West End (020 7262 2030; Kay & Co).