25th May 2011

End to housing market boom or bust

I very much welcomed the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s recent call for an urgent and fundamental reform of the housing market following the failure of policy makers to learn the lessons from previous boom and bust cycles, which have lead to the UK having one of the most persistently volatile housing markets in the world. Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the JRF said “Since the 1970s there have been four boom and bust cycles in the housing market.  This persistent instability distorts housing choices, inhibits house building and drives arrears and possession rates, putting people at greater risk and creating wealth and equality between the generations.”

Readers of previous blogs will know my calls to the UK and Scottish Governments to tweak the Stamp Duty and Capital Gains Tax legislation, in particular with a view to dealing with people who sell on properties, other than their sole or main residence, in a period of seven years.  I also believe that putting the housing market on a solid footing requires in the first instance help for first time buyers and some form of first time buyer fund should also be created. 

The JRF housing market taskforce have recommended:-

  • An increase in the supply of housing
  • Reform of both Stamp Duty and Council Tax and a better safety net for homeowners based on shared responsibility between lenders, borrowers and the Government.

I think the recommendations are very sensible and I would urge the Government to recognise these and do all they can to get the UK housing market in  on a firm footing.  This will reap untold benefits for the economy as a whole.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services



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