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Lenders keep market heart pumping

Housing is something of a national obsession and our culture sometimes seems to be fixated on the value of our houses. As for those who haven’t already bought a house, there’s a fair chance that they are focussed on remedying that perceived problem at the earliest opportunity. In fact, virtually everyone has an opinion and an interest in the property market at one level or another.

It is therefore not surprising that property frequently crops up on the political agenda. If the Opposition wants to stoke up some interest among voters it chooses housing as a topic that makes people sit up and listen. And it seems the Conservatives are keen to bring housing to the fore alongside the big political issues of health, education and crime.

The Tories picked up on the topic of Home Information Packs as an issue for political debate, working on the assumption that most sellers would probably prefer not to fork out more cash. When the gov- ernment pulled away from its initial proposal for com- pulsory Home Condition Reports, shadow minister for housing and planning Michael Gove was quick to seize on the climbdown.

More recently, the Tories again nailed a blue flag to the housing issue with Tory leader David Cameron’s speech proposing that council tenants should have the opportunity to work towards the ownership of their own homes by turning their rental payments into mortgage payments.

This latest initiative seems to be aimed at the social housing sector and critics have already pointed to the fact that it doesn’t address the lack of housing stock that is the cause of so many difficulties in the housing market. Nor does it provide a solution for the vast number of would-be first-time buyers who are finding it so tough.

This sector is not well served by current government initiatives either, with the key worker scheme benefiting a specific group rather than providing a mass-market solution. The recent increase in the zero-rated Stamp Duty band to 125,000-plus was welcome but cold comfort for the many first-time buyers yearning for a property in that price bracket.

There are no easy answers and it is likely that a mix of these initiatives coupled with the development of affordable housing will help more people get on the property ladder.

Keeping housing in the public eye as a political battleground does no harm when it comes to bringing about change, but in the meantime it is often the lending industry that provides innovation with the likes of 100%, guarantor and equity share lending in a bid to keep the heart of the market pumping.

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