News: Government slammed over FTBs

Fri, 28 Sep 07

The costs of buying a property continue to rise with stamp duty still presenting the biggest burden, says SmartNewHomes.com...

The average price of a first-time buyer home is currently breaking the £150,000* barrier, £25,000 above the first stamp duty threshold. 

Around 60% of first-time buyers pay stamp duty and associated moving costs have risen to £11,000, according to new research by GE Money Home Lending, with nearly a third of the money going on stamp duty after the deposit, mortgage and solicitors’ fees.  

Scrap stamp duty!

David Bexon, Managing Director of SmartNewHomes.com says: “Now more than ever, the Government needs to stop paying lip service to this group of buyers and take the decision to scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers.

“With these borrowers having to rely on large loans to get them onto the ladder and price growth rapidly exceeding the average wage rise, the plight of the first-time buyer is serious.”

“First-time buyers need the confidence in this uncertain market to make the biggest financial purchase of their life. The Government needs to take action now.”

To visit the petition: www.smartnewhomes.com/stampdutypetition

New build problems

The Government has also responded to an online petition asking the Prime Minister to ensure that new build purchasers get more protection. 

The petition submitted by Martin Howsam, 36, IT Specialist, received hundreds of signatures in a very short space of time highlighting the importance of the issue to new home buyers.

Catriona Bright the Managing Director of New Build Inspection, a company that inspects the quality of new homes, commented: "We welcome the fact that the Government recognises that there is a problem, especially as the housebuilding industry is spending a fortune on professional lobbyists and public relation campaigns claiming their house is in order."

In its response the Government correctly state that contracts for the sale of new homes are not covered by the Sale of Goods Act. They claim that this is a fair reflection of the differences between buying goods and land, stating that the fundamental difference is that land is immovable.

They argue that in land transactions, consumers are more likely to be supported by independent professional advice and the terms of the contract are more likely to be negotiated.

Scandalous distinction

Bright responded: "New build buyers have no scope to negotiate the terms of the contract when buying a new home. They simply refuse - it is misleading to imply that this is possible.

“Moreover, the distinction between land and goods is not helpful as the problem is with the actual building on the land not the land itself. If I spent a couple of thousand pounds having a new bathroom fitted it would be covered by the Good and Services Act - it is scandalous that new build homes are not."

The Government goes on to say that the Office of Fair Trading is carrying out a market study into the house building industry which will report back in the Summer of 2008.  The stated outcomes of the study could include:

* Enforcement action by the OFT

* A referral of the market to the Competition Commission

* Recommendations for changes in laws and regulations

* Recommendations to regulators, self-regulatory bodies and others to consider changes to their rules

* Campaigns to promote consumer education and awareness

* A clean bill of health.

Bright commented: "Of course we welcome the market study and have submitted evidence.  However, it is worrying that the house building industry is trying to skew public opinion with their complacency by stating that they will get 'a clean bill of health' at every opportunity."

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