Countrywide comments on Government’s Housing Strategy

Countrywide

Monday, November 21, 2011

"As the UK's largest estate agencyand property services Group, we welcome the fact that the Coalition has finallyrecognised the importance that the housing market plays in the regeneration ofthe UK economy and in particular job creation and has taken measures to supportthis.

"The measures announced today are a stepin the right direction and address the key fundamental issues that haverestricted the housing market in recent years- housing supply and therequirements of high level of deposits- have both been addressed. We whollysupport the focus around raising the availability of new stock in both thesales and rental markets and the measures announced to assist first time buyersonto the property ladder.

"The government need to ensure that theirpromise of increasing house building is followed through and not restricted byplanning red tape. Whilst the proposed new build indemnity scheme is a welcomedboost to homebuilders and prospective buyers, at a time where depositaffordability has remained a significant barrier to not only first time buyers,it is disappointing to see a lack of measures to assist the vast majorityof  homemovers. A stamp duty holiday for all homebuyers up to £250,000by would have been a welcomed boost to the resale market and should still beconsidered.

"We also welcome the consideration of taxbreak measures for buy-to-let investors. As the UK's leading lettings network,we have seen rental demand increase significantly, leading to a seriousshortage of rental properties available to let. With an average of five tenantscompeting for each available rental property, any Government support toencourage investment in the buy-to-let sector will help to relieve the supplyand demand imbalance.

"The proposed introduction of acouncil tax premium on homes that have been empty for more than two years isnot before time. Empty homes have blighted towns and cities across the countryand we are pleased that the government are now addressing this chronic issuewhich could reintroduce thousands of properties back into a habitablecondition.

"Wemay be in the midst of a rental boom and some may argue that renting has becomethe new norm, however, we have seen that there is still a serious appetite forhomeownership in the UK and we hope that the Government will continue to viewthe health of the housing market as a priority."

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