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Don’t bank on Brown to help buyers

It’s not long now before Gordon Brown makes the short move from 11 to 10 Downing Street. The burning question is whether this will have an impact on the housing market. I’m not optimistic because Brown has not done much for the market as chancellor.

A few years ago, Mortgage Strategy launched its Step up Stamp Duty campaign and I handed in the petition to 11 Downing Street. Whether Brown looked at it is another matter. In the end, he did no more than tinker with Stamp Duty, increasing the lower threshold to £125,000. This had a minimal impact as you’d be hard pressed to find a property for less than this.

So it’s not surprising that Nationwide is calling on Brown to help home buyers by tackling the problems of affordability and rising house prices when he becomes Prime Minister. It points out that in the past decade, affordability has deteriorated significantly as house prices have increased by 215%.

Nationwide is not alone in arguing for Stamp Duty to keep pace with rising house prices and calling on the Prime Minister and his chancellor to link Stamp Duty to house price inflation.

Another area where Brown has angered people is with his tightening up of loopholes on Inheritance Tax. The lower limit is now £300,000. Because of rising house prices, an increasing number of people are having to pay 40% IHT bills – no longer only the wealthy.

A further failure of Brown’s was Professor David Miles’ report which was effectively buried after much hype. GMAC-RFC took the brave step of launching a 25-year mortgage as recommended in the report but this was short-lived. Other lenders have tried since, but there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for this type of deal.

But Brown has achieved some success. His decision to establish the Monetary Policy Committee has helped keep the base rate at low levels. But rates are starting to creep up, so perhaps the cracks are starting to show here too.

On a different matter, Tesco’s plans for world domination are hitting problems – in Glasgow at least. The supermarket giant has applied for planning permission for one of its villages which will include houses, probably with Tesco mortgages available. But Glaswegians are up in arms about it and Tesco has accused protesters of being aggressive. I find it hard to believe that normally chilled out Glas-wegians are being anything other than charming.

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