Estate agents urge new housing minister to make life easier for first time buyers

New five point plan could also help improve property market for current homeowners

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The Independent Online

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is calling on the new housing minister Mark Prisk MP to follow its five-point plan to make it easier for first time buyers to get on the housing ladder, and less expensive for existing homeowners to move.

It follows the NAEA's August housing market report which showed a slight decrease in both the supply of property and demand from prospective buyers. Its members reported the number of available houses on the market decreased from an average of 61 per branch in July to 60 in August. Similarly, house hunter levels dropped slightly from an average of 293 in July to 288 in August per branch.

Mark Hayward, President of the NAEA said: "While the ‘Olympic Effect’ did to an extent impact the level of demand and supply, the underlying issue of lack of adequate funding mechanisms is still the stumbling block, preventing many prospective homeowners from getting onto the property ladder.

“This is a situation we have been striving to encourage the Government to change for far too long. Market confidence is in crisis. Concerns amongst potential buyers about job security, the size of deposits required and prohibitive levels of Stamp Duty mean that overall levels of home ownership are at their lowest rates for 20 years.

The NAEA action plan calls on the Government to:

1. Introduce government regulation of letting and sales agents

2. Comprehensively reform Stamp Duty, ruling out any new taxes on residential property

3. 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

4. Build significantly more homes to increase supply

5. Work closely with lenders to ensure that lending criteria are appropriate

The housing market report also found that the number of sales made by agents remained static for a record six consecutive months with the average branch selling seven properties in August. Similarly, the percentage of sales made to first time buyers remained static, making up 18 per cent of overall sales in July and August.

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