Budget 2015: Help to Buy Isa “a bit of a gimmick” in London
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The Help to Buy Isa announced by George Osborne in today’s Budget statement is unlikely to help first time buyers in north London, according to local experts.
The scheme means that those who purchase the Isa can save up to £200 a month towards their first home and the government will boost the savings by 25 per cent, or up to £50 a month.
The Isa is capped at £12,000 of savings, which will topped up by a government bonus of up to £3,000, payable on purchase of a property. In his budget speech, Mr Osborne cited £15,000 as the average first time buyer deposit in the UK.
However, in Greater London, where the average first time buyer deposit is £69,630, this will contribute only 22 per cent of that sum, with the government contribution a mere 4 per cent of the total, according to figures from Savills.
This compares with Northern Ireland, the region with the cheapest first time buyer deposits, where the maximum £15,000 Isa contribution is 103 per cent of the average £14,567 deposit.
Nick Collins of Hadleigh Residential in Belsize Park said: “It sounds like a bit of a gimmick. Anywhere inside the M25 what’s it going to cover? It’s going to allow you a little more wiggle room on what you’re able to offer but not much more.”
The bonus will be available on home purchases of up to £450,000 in London and will be paid when the buyer purchases a home.
It will also take four years to save the full amount at the maximum rate of saving.
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Mr Collins said: “Everything at that price point goes to an investor. If you’ve managed to cobble together £3-400,000, you’ll look one or two stops further up the Northern line to find something where you can have a better quality of life.”
Guy Russell head of residential at Salter Rex, Kentish Town said: “We’ve had things for under £400,000 but they tend to be less than great areas or in need of work and will often go to investors rather than first time buyers.
“I think people will be better off borrowing money off their mum and dad and getting the capital appreciation on that than waiting for four years with the Isa.
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“Apart from anything else, what are the chances that these properties will cost less than £450,000 in four years’ time? Let’s just say I wouldn’t pop down William Hill and put my money on it.”
Other critics have noted that the Budget offered no incentives to house building in the city, leading to fears of increased demand without a concurrent increase in supply and the potential for first time buyers to be priced even further out of the market.
David Orr, chief executive at the National Housing Federation said: “This is another short-term initiative for first-time buyers, not a budget to end the housing crisis.
“We are pleased that the government recognises how difficult it is to get on the housing ladder. But the housing crisis is a long-term problem that calls for a long-term solution and one that affects more than just prospective buyers.
“The Help to Buy Isa will help people scrape together deposits but it fails to address the root cause of unaffordability – the chronic undersupply of homes, which has driven up prices.”