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Look for clients in the Right places

Many think the scheme&#39s glory days faded along with its creator, Margaret Thatcher.

Yet tens of thousands of council house dwellers still buy their home at discounted rates under Right to Buy every year, adding to the 1.5 million who have bought property since the scheme was introduced in 1980. This accounts for one in three of the extra 4.5 million owner-occupiers in the UK over the past 20 years. Quite a legacy.

Anybody who suggests the current administration is trying to bury Right to Buy will receive a swift verbal clout from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott&#39s office, which insists the government is still deeply committed to the scheme.

As we explore in our cover feature starting on page 32, the forthcoming Housing Bill, still awaiting its third reading in the House of Commons, will tighten rules on qualifying for Right to Buy but it won&#39t kill it off. The government hopes to tackle profiteering and reduce the scheme&#39s impact on the availability of social housing, which has aggravated problems facing low-paid workers in areas of costly housing (which these days means most of the country).

Yet rumours still persist that Right to Buy&#39s days are numbered with sources close to the FSA suggesting shifts in government policy would mean the scheme could soon be phased out regardless.

At least the Tories are still committed to expanding their old vote winner, announcing in August plans to extend the scheme to the private sector by granting rights to tenants in housing association properties.

Many mainstream brokers are still doing very nicely from standard mortgages and can afford to ignore this niche. Hopefully things will stay that way. Even if Right to Buy continues its steady recent growth, it&#39s unlikely to provide that much of a cushion for a slowing mortgage market.


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