Official data has suggested a sharp slowdown in the use of the Government’s flagship Help to Buy scheme on the same day that Sajid Javid outlined his newly titled Housing, Communities and Local Government department’s commitment to renew the “dream of British home ownership”.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government wrote in an article for The Times yesterday that the Help to Buy mortgage and savings schemes as well as the Stamp Duty exemption had helped more people on to the housing ladder.
He also said the Government would clampdown on rogue landlords and abuse of leasehold and would deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s and heralded yesterday’s launch of Homes England, the national housing agency which is effectively a rebranding of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
However, government data yesterday showed that while more than 350,000 completions have taken place using one or more of the Help to Buy schemes since first launched in April 2013, uptake has dropped 26% annually to 10,132.
The data also shows the price Help to Buy purchasers are paying is above average.
The average price paid by first-time buyers when the scheme was launched in 2013 was £192,404 at the end of the third quarter of that year.
It has since increased 44% to hit £278,189 at the end of the third quarter of 2017, up 11% on a year before.
Similarly, non first-time buyers have seen prices increase from £259,437 in April 2013 to £324,142 at the end of the third quarter of 2017, with prices increasing 9.6% over the same period for 2016.
First-time buyers are still paying less than the national average for a new-build, which the Land Registry says is £288,931, but they are paying above the average price for a typical new buyer property, which official data says is £188,173.
Non first-time buyers are paying more than the average price for new-builds and above that of resold property, which is currently £260,223.
This begs the question whether both cohorts could have saved money using a mainstream mortgage and not having to rely on the government equity loan that they will eventually have to repay.
Separate data on the Help to Buy ISA showed there have been 143,894 bonuses paid through the scheme since launch in December 2015 to the end of September 2017, which supported 106,612 property completions. Some of these may have been for Help to Buy properties.
There were 7,134 completions in September 2017, down from 8,347 in August but up on the 5,689 reported in the same month of 2016.
Andy Sommerville, director at conveyancing software provider Search Acumen, warned the system is broken.
He said: “The Help-to-Buy has tapered somewhat from the highs we witnessed in the middle of 2017, but underlying figures paint a more worrying picture.
“The average purchase price for a first-time buyer property is up to record levels – up 12% annually, and more than 50% more since the third quarter of 2013. In that same period, the average household wage of a first-time buyer taking part in the government scheme has only increased by 7% annually, and a third since Q3 2013.
“If the rate of house price growth is double the rate at which first-time buyer wages are increasing within the scheme, we have created and are sustaining a broken system.
“We hope the incoming housing minister and the newly augmented Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government can find new and innovative ways to support first-time buyers more sustainably than we are today.”