Election fever is at its height and all parties have released their manifestos. Housing is a key battleground despite the fact there is no full cabinet position for the housing minister and the past few governments’ poor records on ensuring more houses were built.
In the blue corner, we have the spirit of Thatcherism with the Right to Buy scheme extended to 1.3 million housing association homes in England. Despite an initial storm of criticism (given the fact the last thing local authorities need is to lose more affordable housing) and the howls from those in the private rented sector struggling to save for a deposit, this may appeal to many.
The Tories also promise 200,000 homes for first-time buyers aged under 40 at 20 per cent discount and have introduced Help to Buy Isas to help them save a deposit.
In the red corner, Labour has promised 200,000 more homes by 2020, prioritising local first-time buyers in new housing areas. It also guarantees three-year tenancy agreements in the private sector and a ‘ceiling’ on rent increases.
The LibDems aim to increase housebuilding to 300,000 a year, develop at least 10 new garden cities and provide 30,000 rent-to-own homes a year by 2020. Meanwhile, its mansion tax bands are not as bad as many suspected.
Ukip wants to prioritise social housing for people with parents born locally and vows to protect greenbelt by making it easier to build on previously developed land.
The Green Party would build 500,000 social rental homes by 2020, bring 350,000 empty homes back into use and abolish Right to Buy council homes. It would cap rents and introduce five-year tenancies.
A lot of promises but little detail. Given the data on housing starts in the past, we would have to go some to get to these figures and we need total buy-in from public and private builders. It is time to start delivering on these promises to ensure the current housing issues do not get any worse.
In the markets, three-month Libor is at 0.57 per cent while swap rates have lost interest in anything.
2-year money is up 0.01 at 0.91%
3-year money is up 0.01 at 1.08%
5-year money is unchanged at 1.33%
10-year money is unchanged at 1.66%
Nationwide has cut rates at 60 per cent LTV, with its two-year fix at 1.59 per cent and five-year fix at 2.29 per cent with £999 fees.
Clydesdale’s two-year fixes to 60 per cent LTV are at 1.89 per cent with no arrangement fees and a five-year version is at 2.69 per cent.
TSB has started its buy-to-let pilot and introduced a couple of remortgage rates with free valuations and legals. These are priced at 2.19 per cent for a two-year fix to 75 per cent LTV and 2.49 per cent for a 60 per cent LTV five-year fix, both with no fees.
The 10-year fix trend continues with Leeds’ 80 per cent LTV version priced at 3.64 per cent with a £999 fee and tapered ERCs. But is there much demand for 10-year fixes?