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Housing bubble warning for help to buy

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Finance

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Image: via Shutterstock

The government’s help to buy scheme could spark a minimum 11% house price rise, the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) has warned.

IMLA’s Intermediary Lending Outlook report shows almost two thirds of intermediary lenders and brokers (60% and 59% respectively) single out a house price bubble as the most likely factor that may undermine the government scheme.

The research shows lenders already anticipate a 2.7% increase in the average house price by the end of the year, pushing it to £166,418 according to the Land Registry measure.

IMLA claims that if the same growth rate continues for the duration of help to buy, the average house price will reach £180,265 by the end of 2016 - an overall rise of 11% in four years.

This would bring house prices close to their last peak of £181,975, which was recorded in November 2007.

And there are concerns that the rate of increase could be even greater with the upcoming help to buy mortgage guarantee offer that is due to launch in January.

Brokers have also voiced concerns about a potential lack of lender support for the scheme, with 49% worried this will jeopardise the scheme.

Despite these worries both groups agree that first time buyers will see the greatest benefit from the upcoming mortgage guarantee scheme, with 100% of lenders and 89% of brokers taking this view.

Lenders are more optimistic than brokers about home movers benefitting (80% vs. 56%). While the guarantees will also be available to existing homeowners seeking to move to another lender, just 13% of lenders and 6% of brokers see the scheme as benefitting homeowners remortgaging their properties.

Peter Williams, executive director of IMLA, said: “Pleasing though it is to see increasing levels of activity in the market and a swell of consumer interest, these findings spell out the importance of keeping control over any future growth.

“There is a clear consensus that first-time buyers stand to benefit most from the second part of help to buy. But if house prices continue to rise for the duration of the scheme, then in essence we will be giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Moreover the exit from the scheme will need to be managed very carefully so it without causing serious harm to the market.

“If people are struggling to raise deposits in the current climate then a further 11% increase in house prices will lift the property ladder even further out of reach for some. Housebuilders are attempting to bridge the ever growing chasm between supply and demand which is going to be essential to ensure we help more people to access the property ladder without creating new hurdles in the form of inflated house prices.

“In the meantime, the pressure is on to ensure help to buy is more inclusive than divisive. Agreement on capital weightings and on the fee lenders will be charged to participate are crucial to ensuring the scheme is made affordable for lenders as well as consumers if we want to see a similar impact as the current equity loan scheme.”

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