[4th March 2021] Unsurprising UK budget

The 2021 budget, certainly as far as the housing market was concerned was a little bit of a none event, as all of the big ticket items had been pre- announced.

The stamp duty holiday has been extended by 3 months to the end of June, no doubt enabling more buyers to take advantage of the potential savings.

Since the tax holiday was introduced in July 2020, the property industry has struggled to cope with surging demand, creating bottlenecks in transactions for mortgage brokers and conveyancers. The new deadline will most benefit those who are already underway with their property sale or purchase, given that the timescale to complete before the new deadline remains tight.

The government also confirmed reports that it will provide a guarantee on 95 per cent loan-to-value mortgages, designed to support potential buyers with smaller deposits. That’s good news for listed high street lenders including Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and NatWest, which are all participating in the new scheme. The group will soon be joined by Virgin Money (VMUK), said Sunak.

The scheme could lower the cost of repayments for borrowers. For instance, if current 95 per cent LTV rates drop to 75 per cent rates to reflect the lower risk to the lender, it has the potential to bring down the monthly cost of repayments significantly.

The scheme will be available for new mortgages up to 31 December 2022 and allow borrowers to fix their initial mortgage rate for at least five years.

However, it is likely to chiefly benefit those in lower priced parts of the market, as regulatory limits on loan-to-income levels mean the high cost of homes in southern England - notably London - makes using a 95 per cent mortgage much harder, argued David Ross, managing director at property market analytics specialist Hometrack.

Given the supply of new homes coming onto the market remains below levels witnessed during the comparable period last year, a boost to demand could mean elevated levels of sales price inflation continue. In February, Nationwide’s house price index recorded annual growth of 6.9 per cent, up from 6.4 per cent in January.