Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 14:05 UK

Housing changes: the reaction

To let sign
The housing market has slowed considerably in 2008

Housing groups have given a guarded welcome to the changes to the stamp duty threshold and other housing measures announced by the government.

Stamp duty is to be axed for a year on properties costing less than 175,000, lifting the 1% purchasing tax threshold from 125,000.

The government is also planning to give help to first-time buyers with loans on newly built properties in England.

The Conservatives said the proposals would not help most families.

Many groups welcomed the move, but also called for more to be done.

COUNCIL OF MORTGAGE LENDERS

"Essentially this package is directed at the blockages in the housing market for some vulnerable consumers," said CML director general Michael Coogan.

"This is welcome, but until more funding is available we are still some way from restoring long-term stability to the housing and mortgage markets.

"But we welcome the announcement of reforms to Income Support for Mortgage Interest next spring, where the waiting time for new claims is being cut from 39 weeks to 13 weeks, and the upper ceiling for the size of mortgage that will be met is being raised to 175,000.

"The mortgage rescue proposals for some borrowers who would otherwise become homeless, while also welcome, will help only perhaps 6,000 households over two years.

"The new shared equity product to help first-time buyers will be useful for a particular tranche of would-be home-owners who genuinely wish to enter the market now. The proof of the pudding will be in its uptake.

"The stamp duty concession for properties under 175,000 is something of a curate's egg - good in parts."

ROYAL INSTITUTION OF CHARTERED SURVEYORS

"The government has failed to listen to the property industry and respond to market pressures and their proposed measures will have little impact on those suffering as a result of the current crisis," said Rics spokesman James Scott-Lee.

"Action to increase lending by improving liquidity in the mortgage market is essential as part of a coherent package of measures alongside help for first-time buyers and protection against repossession.

"Without making it easier to get a mortgage, the government is doing no more than tinkering around the edges of the housing market downturn."

SHELTER

"The package of measures shows the government is listening and trying, and taking all the steps that it could," said Shelter chief executive Adam Sampson.

"However, what has been announced will still be dwarfed by the massive scale of the housing crisis, and will be very limited in helping enough homeowners to turn the market around.

"The package will only really help about 15,000 people in total, but with 45,000 set to be repossessed this year, hundreds of thousands priced out of the market and millions stuck on the council house waiting list, the help the government is offering doesn't go far enough."

TUC

"This is active government at its best - a welcome package of measures that targets help effectively on those who need it the most," said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

"So even if one does want to buy a house, this now saves you 500, or 1%, which is something but it's not a whole lot
Estate agent Peter Rollings

"It will increase the supply of social housing, help those threatened by repossession and provide a real boost to low and middle income first-time buyers.

"The ball is now in the court of the banks and builders to work with the government to make this package work."

MORTGAGE BROKER RAY BOULGER

"It is much too little, it won't have a big impact. First of all, increasing the limit by 50,000 will only help a relatively small number of people.

"I think announcing it's going to last for a year is a mistake ... because people will think, I can take advantage of this in six months time, so there is no need to rush."

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ESTATE AGENTS

"We have been saying, along with others, that the [stamp duty] minimum should have gone up to 250,000," said chief executive Peter Bolton King.

"Bearing in mind the lack of sales going through this year, I wouldn't have thought the chancellor would have lost that much more money by putting it up to 250,000, so it is a step in the right direction, but in all honesty, the whole stamp duty issue needs to be sorted out anyway."

ESTATE AGENTS MARSH AND PARSONS

"It doesn't address the fundamental problem which is lack of liquidity in the mortgage market," said Peter Rollings, managing director of Marsh and Parsons estate agents.

"So even if one does want to buy a house, this now saves you 500, or 1%, which is something but it's not a whole lot.

"So it is a step in the right direction but, I think, quite a small step."

HOME BUILDERS FEDERATION

"We welcome today's package as a positive set of measures to assist the housing market - and particularly the hard-pressed first-time buyer," said HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley.

For sale sign
The proposals have received a guarded welcome from many groups

"We have consistently called for a stamp duty holiday to assist market confidence and for action to help those seeking to get on to the property ladder, including a new shared equity scheme involving developers.

"However, we still also need action to tackle the current constraints on mortgage funding. This remains a critical part of the overall picture on which the ultimate success of today's measures depends."

CBI

"The government has limited room for manoeuvre because of the poor state of public finances but they have sensibly targeted help with steps on social housing that are modest and useful," said CBI director general Richard Lambert.

"The changes to stamp duty, however, may turn out to be largely symbolic and will not be cost free."

CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU

"We welcome the package of measures announced today, particularly the cut in the waiting time and increased capital limit for Income Support for Mortgage Interest, reforms to the safety net for homeowners which we have been urging for some time," said Citizens Advice chief executive David Harker.

"These could be an effective way of keeping people who lose their jobs suddenly and have no savings to fall back on in their homes.

"Helping people stay in their homes will reduce the risk of social exclusion that arises when families have to enter temporary accommodation, with children having to change schools before eventual re-housing, possibly involving yet another change of school for the children.

"For these measures to work, lenders must play their part."




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