General election Christmas wishlist

Rebecca Stott of FoundIt London, the independent property finder for first-time buyers, provides a ‘Christmas Wish List’ on what the new government should be addressing in order to regulate and reform the UK’s housing sector to help the young buy their first home.

First-time buyer tax break up to £500,000

Since 2017, the lucky first-time buyers who have been able to purchase their first home have paid 0% stamp duty on the first £300,000 on properties worth up to £500,000, saving up to £5,000. For anything valued between £300,001-£500,000, the levy is 5%. However, with price inflation in London and the average house now currently worth around £654,000 (Zoopla Dec 2019), home ownership is still out of reach for hundreds of first-time buyers. For anybody paying in excess of half a million, they do not qualify for any of the exemption and would have to fork out the standard rates. Stamp duty is very much a concern for my clients, who are looking at around the £500,000 – £650,000 level, and so a tax relief here should motivate first-time buyers to make the move, potentially saving them up to £10,000 – a grand total of £15,000 if you take into consideration the current saving up to £300,000.

Review of landlord taxes

The new government should launch a review of all taxes relating to private landlords. The property market has been severely affected by the additional stamp duty surcharge to buy-to-let properties, the phasing out of the tax relief on mortgage interest and the repercussions of the Tenant Fees Act. This means that landlord costs have significantly increased and so many can no longer make ends meet. A review will help the sector and in turn create a more affordable environment for renters leading to longer-term tenancies. All in all this will help the property market move forward again as rents will soften and first-time buyers will be able to save more in order to purchase their own property sooner.

Exempt downsizers from stamp duty or at least be given an incentive to make the move

Just like we have seen many incentives to get onto the property ladder, this kind of programme should be considered for the over 65s market to encourage them to downsize and release new stock to the market.

Implement an online logbook to show all transactions across the property industry

There should be transparency and fairness when going through the process of selling or buying your largest asset to date. All information should be accessible for all parties for free.

Regulation of property agents

We call for the government to regulate estate agents across the industry as this is a sector where hundreds of thousands of pounds are being transferred on a daily basis and shouldn’t be taken lightly. They must make sure everyone has the correct license, adheres to a strict code of practice and has at least a level 3 qualification (equivalent to an A-level). This regulation will remove bad practice and give the estate agents the credibility they deserve. Many of my clients are using my property finder service because they have had a bad experience with an estate agent and need somebody they can trust to guide them through the process.

Open database for rogue landlords and property agents.

This information shouldn’t just be for the local authorities. All parties within the property industry should have access to the database of rogue landlords and estate agents. This will help first-time buyers transact in an honest and open environment.

Energy efficiency and climate change allowance.

Landlords’ energy saving allowance should be revisited and reintroduced with the inclusion of anything contained in the recommendations report of an energy performance certificate (EPC). This should aid private landlords who only rely on their own income to make energy efficiency improvements to their properties. For first-time buyers having to rent at the moment, anything that helps reduce their house bills through their home being more energy efficient will only help them save that little bit more for a house deposit.