Industry urges govt to adopt housing market recovery plan

Industry urges govt to adopt housing market recovery plan

A group of industry representatives has urged the housing secretary to adopt a three-point plan to get the housing market back on track post-pandemic.

Landmark Information Group, Mortgage Advice Bureau and Simplify have jointly written to the secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government outlining three steps the government should implement to ensure a speedy recovery of the market following the lockdown.

The group’s proposals include defining what constitutes a ‘safe move’, and ensuring the home moving market is one of the first to be allowed to reopen when the ‘stay at home’ measures begin to be phased out.

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It has also proposed, where feasible, to force lenders to honour their mortgage offers for buyers who were part-way through a transaction before the lockdown began.

In March the government agreed with banks that mortgage offers should be extended where completions were delayed by the prioritisation of safety.

Simon Brown, chief executive of Landmark Information Group, said without a plan the housing market and home movers could experience “the same uncertainty that followed the financial crisis.”

Ben Thompson, deputy chief executive of Mortgage Advice Bureau, added: “We need a truly joined up approach that recognises that all those working across our sector must be able to operate again, co-ordinating seamlessly, in order for the market to recover.”

The group also called for the coronavirus job retention scheme to be extended for businesses operating in the home moving space beyond the restart of the market, to enable firms to rebuild their income.

Additionally, it said the government should consider providing a fiscal stimulus for the market to enable a speedier recovery, by way of a stamp duty reduction for 18 months to help stimulate demand.

According to the group, the housing market "has the potential to act as an important catalyst for the wider economic recovery", citing that home movers spend on average £12bn a year on furnishings, improvements and appliances supporting small businesses and the high street.

Chris Sykes, mortgage consultant at Private Finance, agreed that “one of the sure-fire ways to kick start the purchase market would be a temporary reduction in stamp-duty”, particularly for those looking to move up the property ladder or downsize.

He added: “This would potentially give buyers some impetus to make the move at this uncertain time and create some fluidity in the market, freeing up valuable supply of family homes and increasing the pool of potential buyers for these properties.”

Last week tax experts warned that homebuyers could miss out on stamp duty refunds from second homes as a result of the lockdown.