Home buying process in UK to be made cheaper and easier

The home buying process in the UK will become easier and cheaper if the Conservative Party wins next month’s general election and new home building will be speeded up with more housing for specialist groups.

The party’s manifesto, which has just been launched, will crack down on what it believes are rip-off conveyancing fees and other legal fees associated with buying a property. The current pledge to get rid of letting agent fees is also likely to be carried forward after the 08 June if the party wins.

At the launch of the manifesto in Halifax Prime Minister Theresa May also said there will be measures to help out renters by ending unfair leaseholds and increasing the security of good tenants.

‘A Conservative Government will reform and modernise the home buying process so it is more efficient and less costly. We will crack down on unfair practices in leasehold, such as escalating ground rents. We will also improve protections for those who rent, including by looking at how we increase security for good tenants and encouraging landlords to offer longer tenancies as standard,’ the document says.

The manifesto says that the current commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 stands and another half a million will be built by the end of 2022. ‘We will deliver the reforms proposed in our Housing White Paper to free up more land for new homes in the right places, speed up build-out by encouraging modern methods of construction and give councils powers to intervene where developers do not act on their planning permissions and we will diversify who builds homes in this country,’ it added.

There is also a pledge on building better quality homes. ‘For too long, careless developers, high land costs and poor planning have conspired to produce housing developments that do not enhance the lives of those living there. We have not provided the infrastructure, parks, quality of space and design that turns housing into community and makes communities prosperous and sustainable,’ it points out.

‘The result is felt by many ordinary, working families. Too often, those renting or buying a home on a modest income have to tolerate substandard developments, some only a few years old, and are denied a decent place in which to live. We will build better houses, to match the quality of those we have inherited from previous generations. That means supporting high-quality, high-density housing like mansion blocks, mews houses and terraced streets,’ it continues.

But the industry is concerned that the pledge is not sufficient. ‘The housing market is in crisis. We are simply not building enough homes to meet the demand from both the private rented and sales sectors,’ said Mark Hayward, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and David Cox, chief executive of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), in a joint statement.

‘We are concerned that housing has become a political football for future Governments to score points against each other and this is getting in the way of actually ensuring we have the right sort of houses available, in the right areas, across all tenures, to provide the homes that people need,’ it continued.

‘Only 32,000 affordable homes were built in 2016, which hasn’t made a dent. Although the parties are pledging to build hundreds of thousands of new homes, we need to seriously consider if such pledges are even remotely practically possible. As we have said many times, we need to take the politics out of housing and consider other ways to ease the pressure on house building that will allow us to provide a more accessible and affordable housing market for all,’ it added.

The tory manifesto also promises to maintain the existing protections on designated land like the green belt, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and 160,000 houses will be built on Government owned own land. There will also be more specialist housing such as multi-generational homes and housing for older people with housing associations offered help to increase their specialist housing stock.

Another major pledge is to have more elderly home owners contribute to their social care. Currently only people in residential care have the value of their property taken into account, along with savings and other assets, but this would change under the plans in the manifesto.

It would mean hundreds of thousands of owners who are supported by social services at home will have to use their property’s value to contribute to the costs of care. But it is understood that no one would have to sell their house while still alive or their spouse lives there to pay for care.

‘Many older people have built considerable property assets due to rising property prices,’ the manifesto says, but adding that a ceiling will be introduced to ensure that, no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be, people will always retain at least £100,000 of their savings and assets, including value in the family home.

‘We will extend the current freedom to defer payments for residential care to those receiving care at home, so no one will have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care,’ it continues.

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