Help to Buy hangs in the balance
Tue 20 May 2014
The fate of the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme hangs in the balance with Prime Minister David Cameron suggesting it could be scaled back to cool the housing market. Cameron hinted that the 600,000 threshold could be reduced to prevent the scheme driving prices higher. But he also defended the scheme, pointing out that the large majority of people using the scheme are first-time buyers spending 200,000 or less. And he said Bank of England governor Mark Carney had the necessary powers to prevent the housing market from overheating. The Prime Minister said Help to Buy was "not a return to irresponsible lending practices" and insisted he did not want to see "bubbles and booms" in the property market. He said the scheme was aimed at young people with decent job who can afford mortgage payments, but couldn't get help from their parents to put down a deposit on a property. Cameron claimed Help to Buy had got the housing market moving again, particularly the first part of the scheme targeting new-build properties, which he said had boosted housebuilding. Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, said getting on the property ladder is a major challenge with average first-time buyer prices up 10% over the year. "Help to Buy is keeping the mortgage market accessible despite these barriers and the number of first-time buyers actually hit a pre-recession high in March. "But unless the stock of available homes is rapidly increased, there is a limit to how effective the scheme can be. "The government must do much more to support the supply side. We simply need to build more homes." Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: "Public comments from the governor of the Bank of England and the Prime Minister in the last 48 hours have made two vital points. "First, that we need more homes to keep up with the demands of our growing population, and second, that Help to Buy is making a difference to aspiring homeowners across the country, but with little role in the flurry of activity in London and the South East."