‘Chancellor recognised need to assist housing market’

"Government action to support mortgage lending should help translate buyer interest, which has picked up in recent months, into actual sales.

"Additional funding for HomeBuy Direct and extending the Stamp Duty holiday should also encourage those wishing to get on the housing ladder.

"Measures announced by the Chancellor will help move towards a sustainable and vibrant housing market for the future."

Regarding specific Budget measures she said: "Extending the Stamp Duty holiday may help some buyers who do now seem to be entering the market but will only have a major impact if steps to increase levels of mortgage lending are also effective. The end of the holiday needs to be well managed and one possibility would be to reform Stamp Duty from the current slab structure to a marginal system like income tax. Without changes to the system the end of the holiday could cause serious distortions to any upturn in the housing market.

"HomeBuy Direct has proved popular with housebuilders, mortgage lenders and first-time buyers. The Government is right to use this as a way of helping buyers who are suffering as a result of restrictions on mortgage lending. Although the money is welcomed it must be accompanied by better marketing of the scheme, possibly through high street estate agents. Extending the scheme will provide a boost for first time buyers and can help avoid high loan to value mortgages.

"RICS advised the Chancellor to extend HomeBuy Direct and make it the centrepiece of Government low cost home ownership programmes.

"Addressing the availability of mortgage funding is a key factor in unblocking the depressed UK housing market. A Government backed guarantee mechanism is a welcome, although long overdue, intervention to help address this problem. This should allow the recent increase in buyer inquiries to translate into an increase in sales.

"Funding to restart stalled housing projects is essential if the number of homes built is to rise from current record lows. Completing partly-built developments can have an immediate impact on both housing supply and in keeping skilled workers within the industry as they will not have to go through long and costly planning processes. Restarting projects will both increase the number of homes and head off the growing incidence of half completed building sites blighting our communities.

"A detailed reading of the Budget report section on housing indicates that Government plans to work with the sector to identify a regulatory and policy framework to support its long-term housing objectives. This promising statement suggests that Government is keen to address the current inconsistencies in regulation of the property market and the lack of joined up policy on regulation of property services."

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