Budget 2015: The property industry reacts...

Posted 18 March 2015

Today's Budget saw George Osborne announcing the approval of new housing zones, greater investment in London housebuilding and a Help to Buy ISA scheme to help first-time buyers get on to the ladder. You can relive everything in real time over at our live blog, and we'll be taking a closer look at the plans later on, but first here are some on-the-whistle reactions from leading figures in the property world. 

Alison Platt, chief executive of Countrywide: 

"It is great to see the government is looking at new methods of housebuilding. The Chancellor’s approval of new housing zones, including two new enterprise zones in Plymouth and Blackpool, builds upon the housing measures announced in the Autumn Statement.

"While this is a positive step forward, we encourage the government to go one step further. Our analysis shows that there is land for 500,000 homes within walking distance of the train stations in the greenbelt around our cities.  We ask the government to review the greenbelt with a vision to freeing up appropriate land for development."

Edward Heaton of Heaton and Partners:

"Extra funding for new homes and the 20 new housing zones will be a relief to the UK. Any building that takes place on brownfield sites, rather than in open countryside must be welcome. Around the UK and even in London it is surprising how many potential sites remain unlocked because of planning policy and any changes or that are afoot to remedy this are a relief. Extra funding for new homes will not completely solve the housing crisis, but it is a good start, and after all Rome wasn’t built in a day."

Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom.co.uk:

"At first glance, a handout of up to £3,000 for hopeful first-time buyers looks too good to be true. But to get your maximum £3,000 bonus, with maximum monthly payments of just £200, you’ll be saving for four-and-a half long years. By which time, prices will likely have risen again and a £15k deposit won’t be enough. And, as for the bigger picture, this ISA will merely stoke demand without addressing the UK’s chronic supply problem.

“Unless house prices and rents become more affordable, we stand no chance of reaching the real housing goal, which is providing a range of affordable, secure tenures for all, so people can choose the one that best suits their needs.

"What we need is a realistic building programme, combined with far better use of existing housing stock. There isn't a great deal in this Budget to calm the fears of renters worried about their housing costs. Once again the Government is making a big mistake in its tunnel vision focus on homeownership, offering sub par pledges that help a select few, rather than tackling the acute crisis of supply and affordability the UK housing market faces.”

Glynis Frew, managing director of Hunters Property Group:
“Whilst we are seeing positive activity in the lettings market, we are concerned about the introduction of rent control legislation and banning of lettings agents’ fees that some parties are considering introducing. This will only result in higher rents which cannot be fair to tenants. 60% of our landlords have said that they would exit the rental market if such rent controls were put into place. Good landlords already have to abide by a host of new pieces of legislation and we feel this sector needs more support, rather than prohibitive measures. The lettings market is a very important part of the UK’s housing sector infrastructure that is often overlooked – figures suggest that we will see an additional 1.2 million households in England & Wales in the private rented sector by 2019 and a continued trend in more and more people opting to rent rather than buy.”

Rick de Blaby, chief executive of United House Developments: 

“Cutting the red tape strangling London development is key to this announcement. The Chancellor and the Mayor need to ensure that the delivery of public sector land and brownfield sites to developers is backed by an efficient, lean machine to free up this land to avoid the delays currently snarling up the system.”

Kate Faulkner of Property Checklists:

"The reforms are great news for increasing the supply of new homes and indeed for helping first-time buyers. However, first-time buyers already have so many choices, from Shared Ownership to Help to Buy 1 and 2, and now a Help to Buy ISA and the 20% discounted new homes, plus rent-to-buy properties too - so it is confusing to know which way to go.

"Is the budget a big boost for the housing market? Probably not with what we've seen to date, but we need to check the detail and work out if the 'boost' in confidence through a better economy, more money in people's back pockets and an ease on savings and access to pensions mean demand will grow."

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