A new report from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) based on data from the Building Societies Association shows the number of first-time buyers entering the UK's property market is currently around 2.2 million lower than it should be.
The report, titled ‘The Politics of a Rationed Housing Market’ said that existing government schemes were wide of the mark and haven’t provided the much needed support first-time buyers need to get onto the UK’s increasingly expensive property ladder.
The details of the report show that despite some 15 Government-led home-ownership schemes under which 90,000 new home sales have been made and a further 74,000 mortgages secured, it still isn’t helping many of the UK’s would-be first-time buyers. Indeed, despite those figures, there is little evidence that the 270,000 decline in the number of home-owners seen between 2010 and 2013 has even begun to reverse.
And, the IMLA’s industry report states that while recent programmes designed to turn more Britons into home-owners aren’t working as well as they should, the Government are likely to continue in a similar vein. After all, home-owners make-up a large percentage of the voting population – despite the recent fall in numbers – making both home-owners and those who aspire to become home-owners a demographic worth wooing.
“Politically, home owners are a crucial demographic for the Conservatives, so the Government is throwing its weight behind a variety of different schemes to try and boost first time buyer numbers,” said IMLA executive director Peter Williams in the report. “But current policy is still missing the mark and failing in its objective of maintaining home ownership levels.”
The IMLA’s report goes on to highlight that while mortgage repayment rates are around record low levels, first-time buyers are unable to save the increasingly large deposits that are required to secure a mortgage and therefore a home.
The latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, meanwhile, shows that first-time buyer mortgage activity picked up sharply in May – prior to the EU referendum and subsequent Brexit. According to the CML data there was a 16% increase in the number of first-time buyer securing a mortgage in May compared with a year earlier. The industry body also said the average age of a first-time buyer remained steady at 30.
Looking ahead and in light of the Brexit vote, the CML’s director general said that the feeling that the mortgage market had regained “some equilibrium in May” might well be lost in the wake of the referendum.
“Brexit, and its likely effect on the market, is a question to which the answer will not immediately be forthcoming.,” said CML director-general Paul Smee. “Lenders will continue to be open for business as usual, but lending volumes may be affected by uncertain consumer sentiment.”
Uncertainty appears to be the current watch-word in the UK, let’s hope that changes soon and some certainty is instilled by new Conservative leader and Prime Minister Theresa May. While housing policies should feature somewhere in her plans, Brexit will likely be keeping her and her cabinet busy for some time.