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Oct 30 2017

Solving Housing issues with the Government

I have  worked in the property business for 40 years, and having run Rolfe East  for 35 years, I have seen cycles in the property market, and in the  economy at large. Recently, I have been in conversations with various  representatives from government to discuss housing, as this is obviously  an area of real interest, affecting as it does every single person  living in the UK.

I  was able to share my observations, of which there are three main  points. Firstly, too many people are caught in the rental trap, where  high rents makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to save for a  deposit. Secondly, and this is a consequence of the first observation,  if people do not buy property, the state will end up paying rent once  these people do retire, and this will be a problem that dwarfs the  pension crisis. The last point is that I believe buying your own home  should be easier and also more fulfilling.

I have some proposals that I have shared in conversation with those that I met in Westminster, and they are as follows.
For  established tenants - regular rental payments should be proof of  ability to make mortgage payments. Proof of payments would need to  extend for at least a year, but at the same time lenders should  understand that if you can pay rent, you can pay a mortgage, at least in  a lot of cases. There should of course be lower stamp duty for first  time buyers, at present the threshold is set too low and is prohibitive.  100% mortgages for first time buyers, supported by a government  insurance scheme could also boost home ownership.

Landlord  shared ownership schemes exist in blueprint already, but need tweaking  for the private sector. Many landlords would sell a share to their  tenants, but this would need to be incentivised. Perhaps a tax relief on  the initial or subsequent sale could work, if the equity was high  enough. This would have the added effect of securing the future for  tenants and providing more stability, whilst not involving cost or risk  to the state.

Each  new development should have a portion dedicated and exclusive to owner  occupiers, so that home-makers wouldn't be in competition with buy to  let landlords. In our area, apartment blocks with this particular lease  clause do seem to have better communal areas and an improved sense of  community.

At  Rolfe East we already deal with transactions across the full property  spectrum from shared ownership to commercial business transactions, our  applicant/ client base ranges from national house builders to assisted  tenancies. We are encouraged by the government's willingness to listen,  and are looking forward to seeing new initiatives and ideas work their  way into policy.

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