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Putting housing eggs into the REIT basket

The Budget did little to put a spring in the step of the housing market. The government unveiled its NewBuy Guarantee scheme and funding for the Get Britain Building Fund.

Around the same time the Stamp Duty holiday ended. Some transactions were brought forward to take advantage of this, which suggests we will see the market go backwards in April.

NewBuy will have a modest impact because it is focussed on new homes, which make up a minority of transactions. With builders and lenders still signing up and lenders keeping strict controls on valuations and credit assessments, the numbers coming through on NewBuy will be small.

The government is hoping that 100,000 sales will result over three years but that seems optimistic.

The other announcement of note was further consultation on reform to the real estate investment trust regime.

This will focus on the role of UK-REITs in supporting social housing and the treatment of income received by a UK-REIT when investing in another REIT, with the aim of legislation in the Finance Bill in 2013.

The government is placing a lot of emphasis on the REIT sector as the route through which housing investment will be channelled.

Members of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, like many others, are concerned that housing investment is falling behind and that output remains too low.

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