In September, Robert Jenrick was replaced as Housing Secretary by Michael Gove as Boris Johnson sought to build a fresh team to carry out his oft-discussed levelling up agenda.
Since that point, the department itself has been renamed from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to reflect Gove’s extended brief.
He will be the man responsible for overseeing the government’s levelling up programme – said to be worth £640 million and with housing right at its heart, according to the Prime Minister’s recent keynote conference address.
Here, we outline whether and how Gove could try and reform the sales market.
A keen reformer
The most experienced member of the Cabinet, having been in a top-level job, more or less, for well over a decade, Gove has a reputation as a man with reformer instincts.
Those desperate to see changes to the home buying and selling process, with an end to practices such as gazundering and gazumping and more upfront information, may be pleased to see an arch reformer in place.
There has long been speculation about the reforming of property taxes, with one potential solution being the eradication of council tax and stamp duty in favour of an annual levy.
We are expected to learn more about possible alterations to property taxes, likely to include changes to Capital Gains Tax, at the autumn Budget next week (October 27).
Meanwhile, there is likely to be a long-term push towards net-zero carbon housing stock, including a move towards heat pumps replacing gas boilers by 2035.
A focus on home ownership as part of the levelling up agenda
At the recent Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Boris Johnson used his keynote speech to set out an upbeat, optimistic plan for the future, including for the housing market.
In his address, he gave a ringing endorsement to home ownership, telling delegates housing would be a key part of the government’s major levelling up agenda.
“There is no happiness like taking a set of keys and knowing the place is yours, and that you can paint the front door whatever colour you like,” he told the audience, describing it as a ‘scandal’ that home ownership had been declining in recent years.
The PM made clear where the government’s priorities lay when it comes to housing, claiming that home ownership meant people were happier, worked harder and were more productive.
“Homes are the way we can improve our productivity,” he insisted. “We will enable more and more young people to share the dream of home ownership.”
One of Gove’s main tasks will be to increase the number of new homes built across the country, while protecting the Green Belt. The government has already introduced a number of schemes in recent times – including the 95% mortgage guarantee scheme and the First Homes scheme – to help more first-time buyers onto the ladder, while the stamp duty holiday gave a clear boost to the market during the worst days of the pandemic. At the same time, first-time buyers still have existing schemes such as Help to Buy, Shared Ownership and Right to Buy at their disposal.
The government is aiming to meet its 300,000 new homes a year housebuilding target over the next few years, and this is likely to be one of Gove’s major tasks. At present, around 220,000 new homes are being built each year, so it won’t take much of a push to hit this target by the middle of the decade.
The market continues to boom
While reform of the sales market to reduce the number of fall-throughs is welcome, it’s certainly not the case that the sector needs root and branch reform – largely because it proved its worth, resilience and value to the economy during the coronavirus crisis.
Property was one of the first major industries to reopen after the first lockdown, a nod to its position as a multiplier in the economy, and the market has been booming ever since, with record levels of demand, activity and house price growth across the country.
Despite doom-laden talk of a housing market crash, this hasn’t come to pass, and while many experts expect some sort of slowdown in 2022 from the record highs we’ve seen in the last 18 months or so, it still remains a very good time for sellers to sell, with many market fundamentals in their favour.
Here at Oakfield Estate Agents, we have witnessed first-hand how our local market has boomed and we will do all we can to help you sell your home successfully.
For more information on how we can help you to complete your sale in Eastbourne, Hastings and Bexhill, please get in touch with us today.
You can also request a free instant online valuation to see how much your East Sussex property could be worth on the current marketplace.