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Will the UK governments clampdown on the residential property market have the desired effect
There seems to be a common trope emerging in budgets delivered by George Osborne.
As well as the usual giveaways for the low paid, families on middle incomes and those aspiring to get on the property ladder, the Treasury introduces new clamp downs on the buy to let market and those who are hoping to invest in the residential property market.
One of the common complaints levelled at UK housing policy is that supply is nowhere close to keeping up with demand. And whilst house building and planning reform has a long way to go before it does indeed catch up with demand, Osborne's budgets seem to tilt the favour away from buy to let mortgage holders and towards those seeking to get on the ladder for the first time.
However, the residential property market remains a highly lucrative sector of the UK economy. So, if it is the Chancellor's hope to remove incentives for investment in the buy to let industry, is it a viable long-term strategy? This is the chain of reasoning that has brought the Bank of England round to these measures.
1. Landlords hold the keys to the UK rental market
We mean this both figuratively and literally: UK landlords are the beating heart of a UK property sector which has played a prominent in post-2012 recovery. Luxury flats and property speculation are, whether people like it or not, a key driver of the construction industry, as well as being a driver of urban regeneration.
The problem here is that landlords and first time buyers are competing for the same properties and first time buyers are losing out. This means, in turn, that more people are being forced into renting for longer. This means that...
2. The Bank of England fears a property bubble
The demand for buy-to-let property has prompted fears that the market will overheat. If the bubble should ever burst, then the fear is that landlords would abandon the rental market. With house-building still woefully behind its targets, the Bank of England believes that there is only one way to head off such a problem....
3. Tightening the mortgage market
The government's hope is that tighter lending rules will cool the UK rental market. The tightening will include more stringent affordability tests for buy-to-let mortgages (which would bring them more into line with other residential mortgages). At the moment, assessments for financing buy to let loans are very loose, with mortgage payments repayments simply measured against rental income.
There has been a number of hostile reactions to the government's latest crackdown on the buy to let market, with many investors feeling unfairly squeezed. For example, the latest budget delivered by George Osborne saw residential investment exempted from the Chancellor's reforms to stamp duty; landlords investing in residential property will continue to pay higher rates.
We've blogged on our sister site about how the government is trying to nudge property investment more in the direction of the commercial sector. But whilst attempts to tighten the buy-to-let mortgage market may have short-term effects, the demand for property as a source of investment will only continue to rise.
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