Help to Buy will boost confidence say estate agents

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The second phase of a scheme to help home buyers has further boosted confidence in the property market, say estate agents in the area.

But they say it may be a little while before the tangible results are seen because people are still digesting the details.

Help to Buy aims to assist would-be homebuyers who have only a small deposits to get a mortgage.

Alister Leach, partner at Stamford-based Richardson chartered surveyors and estate agents said: “Help to Buy is a good thing, because it gives the market more confidence, and helps people who want to move up who could not do it before. But people are finding their way round it, about what you can and cannot do.”

As the Mercury reported last month, the region saw a surge in the number of homebuyers after the first phase of the £12bn Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme was launched in April.

It allowed first-time buyers with a five per cent deposit to borrow an extra 20 per cent of the purchase price from the Government, interest free for the first five years, to buy a new-build house worth up to £600,000.

The second phase applies to all properties, old and newly-built, and all borrowers, not just those buying a home for the first time, provided it costs less than £600,000.

It was due to begin next year but was brought forward and launched earlier this month to give added impetus to the recovering property market.

Simon Burton, sales director at Goodwin Property Services, said: “It’s too early to see any effect. People know it’s there. It’s created a positive message. It’s sent out another reinforcement that people don’t need to be trapped by lack of equity. A lot of people are talking about it.

“It’s far more likely that we will see a reaction in the new year. The historic time is in January or February and then it takes off from there.”

Paul Mound, associate partner at Murray, which has branches in Stamford, Oakham and Uppingham concurred that people were “investigating exactly what it entails” and trying to find out which bank and building societies were lending at this stage.

He added: “It will probably be in the new year that it will start to take effect.”

Mr Mound does not believe the second phase of Help to Buy will send prices soaring, as some people predict.

He said: “We feel there will be an increase in turnover rather than prices, because salaries are fairly static and banks are cautious about their lending.

“But that is what we want. We don’t want to see huge price increases for properties.

“People’s confidence is reasonably strong because they feel prices won’t fall and they are not waiting for it to go down.

“So prices need to stay the same or go up by a small amount.”

John Steward, partner at Knight Partnership in Stamford, said the second phase was “definitely a positive”.

He said: “I think it’s certainly given buyers a wider access to the mortgage market. We felt the confidence changing in the early part of the year. What this has done is give a bit more access to mortgages.”

Fine and Country in Stamford sell properties at the top end of the market.

Its managing partner James Eastaway said: “It cannot do any harm. It’s all going to feed upwards to the upper end.”

Currently three lenders are taking applications - RBS, NatWest and Halifax. HSBC, Virgin Money, Lloyds, TSB and Aldermore will join the scheme later.

Mr Steward believes as more lenders come on stream the take up will increase.