Budget 2014: how does it affect the housing market?

Dear George, well, you didn’t have much ‘wriggle room’ and delivered a budget that I suppose is the only thing you could have done given that the deficit is circa £108billion but this is set to fall to a balanced budget in 2018 that is good news indeed.

Employment is down again and growth at 2.7% is the fastest in the western world  – a real result.

The half a billion pound funding for small builders is encouraging and will be a ‘shot in the arm’ for this sector that has been hard hit by the reluctance of banks and lending institutions to get involved in house building for smaller companies.  The nationwide house builder has faired far better and can get funding from a myriad of sources, banks, building societies, private equity and mezzanine funding so they are ‘all right Jack’.

Although the Help-to-Buy scheme is limited in scope it is being extended to the end of the decade and helps the few that qualify to break the vicious circle of renting and enables them to get on to the housing ladder – albeit with a sizeable debt that will need to be repaid at some point.

The issue that I am most vexed about is the lowering of the Stamp Duty threshold for corporate purchasers of 15% from £2million to £500,000.

Frankly, since the changes to Stamp Duty with regard to corporate purchasers in the 2012 Budget the frequency of sales over £5million have dropped by at least 30% and over £10million considerably more.  It has raised next to no tax for the Exchequer and this is before you consider the gloomy spectre of Mansion Tax that is concerning three out of four sellers of properties above £5million.  All this, in combination, will, I’m afraid, not bode well and one hopes that the medicine does not kill the patient.

Although the freezing of assets/sanctions on wealthy Russian investors is an understandable reaction to the audacious land grab of Crimea by Putin it will attenuate further buyers from this region and, in London, will damage the market above £5million even further.

It may be very popular to ensnare some of these more cavalier international investors but we should not forget that London is the ‘greatest city in the world’ and its robust property market is a big generator of taxes and a prime stimulant in the growth of the UK economy.

With Corporation Tax nearing 20% we must encourage investors to the UK in order to create wealth, jobs and stoke the economy.  We must be a can do capital and further draconian taxes on the international community buying in London and the UK works against us.

Otherwise George you’ve done the best you can do in the circumstances – keep going!