In his spring 2021 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has chosen to keep the fire under the property market well and truly alight.
The UK is now experiencing a property buying demand reminiscent of a 1970s or 1980s type boom. We know there’s a property boom when adverse events that might otherwise have knocked the market off course fail to do so. Lockdowns 2 and 3 haven’t dented the recharged enthusiasm for property purchase, which began in the first lockdown; nor have the threatened end of the stamp duty holiday or the dark cloud of a post-furlough unemployment spike.
It’s clear that the wider British public is back in love with home ownership, and the Chancellor has chosen to give that fire a further stoke. Mr Sunak has extended the stamp duty holiday from the end of March to the end of June. After this date, the starting rate of stamp duty will be halved to £250,000 until the end of September.
The Budget announcement also included a mortgage guarantee scheme to help people with small deposits get on the property ladder by offering incentives to lenders to provide 95% mortgages.
Simultaneously the Chancellor is easing the country from an end of furlough cliff edge and has turned away from increasing capital gains tax – an increase in CGT could have dented the holiday home and investment sectors. These moves point the way to a lively property market through 2021.
Out of the Chancellor’s control, but helping the market with other boosts, is the sensational march of Covid vaccinations and the pandemic-prompted and facilitated sea change in lifestyle choices.
With the public looking forward to the stepped retreat from lockdown and many people planning new ways of working between office and home, there are compelling new opportunities for buyers looking for first homes or for homes with more room in different surroundings.
As we wake up from the Covid nightmare it looks as if, aided by the Chancellor, a greater number of people will be turning some of their more pleasant lockdown dreams into realities.