Action plan to boost market
Estate agents are calling on the new housing minister to adopt a five-point plan to kick start the housing market.
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) says the Government needs to make it easier for first-time buyers – and make it less expensive for existing homeowners to move.
Its review of the market during August found nationally, the number of available houses on the market fell in August to 60 on the books of the average estate agent, and house hunters fell to 288 per branch.
The action plan calls on the Government to:
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Introduce government regulation of letting and sales agents
Estate agents and letting agents are currently unregulated, meaning anyone can set up an agency without appropriate qualifications or knowledge.
The Government needs to develop a nationwide regulatory regime, to ensure consumers are protected across the UK.
Comprehensively reform Stamp Duty, ruling out any new taxes on residential property
The current 'slab structure' of Stamp Duty distorts the UK housing market and places a disproportionate burden on first time buyers.
Provide support for first time buyers looking to save for a deposit by increasing the annual limit for ISAs and set up a Government-backed saving scheme
Build significantly more homes to increase supply
Housebuilding should be the top priority for the new housing minister, in light of the current crisis of supply of homes for sale and rent.
Work closely with lenders to ensure that lending criteria are appropriate
Martyn Baum, regional spokesman for the National Association of Estate Agents, who runs Hartley's in Ashby, said tackling the stamp duty tax and ensuring fairer lending were key among them.
He said: "We want responsible lending. There were irresponsible loans made during the boom time, of 110% to 115%, which of course were wrong, but it seems to have swung the other way.
"The Government has got to support the banks and give incentives to start lending again.
"There's a saying in America that for every home sold, two jobs are created.
"Yet our Government seems to be able to do very little for the housing market.
"Stamp duty is in need of urgent reform. The system is simply unfair."
The NAEA concerns will go to the new housing minister, Mark Prisk MP.
Mr Baum said in Leicestershire, the property market was in "ebbs and flows".
However, he said: "You can't say that in Leicestershire, it's been a bad summer.
"It's probably been as good as it's been for the past three or four years.
"People are apprehensive about doing anything. If these people could be given a little bit more motivation, then that would be a step in the right direction."