REAL ESTATE REFORMS: THE UK S MOST POPULAR PROPERTY POLICY IDEAS MFS

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1 REAL ESTATE REFORMS: THE UK S MOST POPULAR PROPERTY POLICY IDEAS MFS

2 Real Estate Reforms: The UK S Most Popular Property Policy Ideas On 24 June 2016, the UK awoke to the news that it would be leaving the European Union (EU). This momentous announcement came about as a result of a public referendum the day before, which would ultimately decide the future state of relations between both actors. Over two years on since this historic vote, the UK has witnessed the appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister, the formal beginning of Brexit negotiations, a snap general election resulting in a Conservative-led minority government, and interest rates rising for the first time in over a decade after reaching a record low 0.25%. With the official date of the UK s withdrawal scheduled for 29 March 2019, the ability of the Government to effectively manage Brexit is currently under significant scrutiny, not least due to the limited progress that has been made during negotiations between the EU and the UK. More recently, the Prime Minister has faced internal rifts between v arious factions of the Conservative Party; the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson from their respective positions as Brexit Secretary and Foreign Secretary have revealed the difficulty in balancing the demands of those wanting a soft Brexit and those opting for a harder stance. The on-going political manoeuvrings surrounding the country s departure from the EU are having knock-on effects in many industries, not least the UK s globally-renowned property sector. Indeed, following a cabinet reshuffle, Dominic Raab left the position of Housing Minister and was appointed as the new Brexit Secretary. As a result, Kit Malthouse was named as Raab s successor, making him the 17 th Housing Minister since The timing of this appointment could not be more critical demand for real estate is outpacing supply, and this is creating challenges for renters, prospective buyers, homeowners and seasoned investors. As Malthouse enters his new position, Market Financial Solutions (MFS) set about uncovering the policies and reforms that the public would most like to see the new Housing Minister introduce. To do so, MFS has commissioned an independent, nationally-representative survey amongst over 2,000 UK adults uncovering the most attractive property-related initiatives people would like to see feature on the Government s agenda for the country s real estate market. As well as revealing the sentiments of the public as a whole, the findings of this timely research are broken down into three different demographics, unveiling exactly what renters, homeowners and property investors would like to see the Government introduce. A summary of the key research statistics MFS surveyed a nationally-representative sample of more than 2,000 UK adults to uncover the key property-related policy reforms they would like to see introduced. The research found: 55% of Britons strongly support the introduction of new laws to prevent gazumping, with this number rising to 64% amongst those who own a residential property Over half (52%) of all people believe caps should be introduced to restrict the number, value or location of properties that can be bought by non-uk residents 49% of UK adults would welcome the introduction of a housing tribunal system with the powers to review rent rises on individual properties

3 Profiling the UK property market Worth an estimated 5.9 trillion, the UK s residential property sector makes up a major part of the national economy. Transactions range from the regular rental payments from a tenant to a landlord to a homeowner paying off their mortgage for a property acquisition. And despite the ambiguous nature of Brexit negotiations, the UK property market remains a popular asset class amongst investors and prospective homeowners. Earlier in the year, MFS revealed that over half (53%) of investors would rather invest in traditional asset classes such as property in 2018 instead of investing in newer asset classes, such as cryptocurrencies, with 63% regarding property as a safe and secure asset in the current market. Part of this attraction stems from real estate s historical performance, offering strong returns in times of economic and political transition. To uncover the composition of the residential real estate market, Market Financial Solutions asked the nationally-representative sample to identify which statement best describes their current status someone who rents with no intention of buying a property in the coming 18 months; someone who rents and wishes to buy a property by 2020; someone who owns just one residential property; and someone who owns two or more residential properties. The research found that over half of UK adults (52%) own one residential property in the UK equivalent to million people. Meanwhile, a further 4% of the UK population own two or more residential properties. When it comes to the rental market, MFS research revealed that 25% of Britons live in rented accommodation and have no intention of buying a property in the coming 18 months. This compares to 7% of Brits who live in a rental property and are planning to buy a home by 2020, with the remaining 12% living in different circumstances such as with parents or with no fixed abode. What policy reforms are the UK most eager to see? In response to the myriad of challenges currently facing the UK property market, including housing affordability and access to finance, Market Financial Solutions proposed a series of measures concerning renters, homeowners and investors. The sample was asked about the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the policy proposals, ranging from stamp duty reforms to the removal of inheritance tax on all property. The purpose of this study was to reveal how the Government can better improve access to an asset that remains in such high demand. The table overleaf has ranked the potential reforms in order of their popularity amongst the UK public, inclusive of renters, homeowners and buy-to-let landlords.

4 Rank Proposed policy measure Percentage of UK adults that agree 1 New laws to prevent gazumping 55% 2 Restrictions on the number, value or location of properties that can be bought by non-uk residents 52% 3 A housing tribunal system that would have powers to review rent rises on individual properties to ensure they are fair 49% 4 The removal of inheritance tax on all property assets 46% 5 Financial incentives for people seeking to renovate derelict properties and put them back on the market for sale or rent 44% 6 A cap on the number of residential homes that can be owned by one person 41% 7 New incentives such as a reduction in stamp duty or increasing the scope of Help to Buy schemes for both first-time buyers and existing homebuyers who purchase a new-build 8 The introduction of long-term tenancy agreements with a minimum three-year term for landlords and tenants 40% 36% 9 Council tax for rental properties to be paid by the landlord and not the tenant(s) 34% 10 Reforms to stamp duty so that it is payable by the seller as opposed to the buyer 19% Of all the reforms proposed, MFS research found that 55% of Britons strongly support the introduction of new laws to prevent gazumping, with this number rising to 64% amongst those who own one residential property. Public support for this reform clearly demonstrates how common it is for people to lose out on a property acquisition due to last-minute bids being made by rival buyers. Earlier in the year, MFS revealed that gazumping remains a major contributing factor for property chains collapsing, with 39% of people who have experienced a property deal fall through stating that it was due to the seller accepting a better offer from another buyer. The second most popular policy reform concerned foreign ownership of UK residential property. At the moment, there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of residential property in the UK. However, there are rules in place to ensure the appropriate tax is paid when a property is purchased; additional taxes also apply for any rental income received from this acquisition. Nonetheless, over half (52%) of respondents support restrictions on the number, value or location of properties that can be bought by non-uk residents.

5 The third most popular policy reform regards greater government power to regulate the rental market. Namely, 49% of UK adults would welcome the introduction of a housing tribunal system with the authority to review rent rises on individual properties. This jumps to 58% for those renting with no intention of buying a home over the coming 18 months. Balancing the demands of renters and homeowners Analysis of the research based on different demographics revealed a significant and understandable divergence of priorities between renters and homeowners. For example, 41% of the UK population support a cap being placed on the number of residential properties that can be owned by a non-uk resident. However, 47% of those who currently own more than one property are against such a cap being placed. The issue of taxation also featured high on the list of priorities for those who own multiple properties. Over three-fifths (62%) of people with more than one property support the abolition of inheritance tax on property assets this ranked as their top policy desire. Rising house prices have led to an increase in property wealth amongst UK homeowners. However, with the current inheritance tax threshold at 325,000, a growing number of people are finding themselves liable to pay the tax when inheriting real estate. Finally, the MFS research found that a significant number of homeowners support financial incentives for people seeking to renovate derelict properties and put them back on the market for sale or rent. This measure is the second top policy priority for those who own two or more residential properties, with 53% supporting this measure. Such a reform would help alleviate existing market demand for properties, offering a fast and effective way of getting more homes on the market. Moreover, such a reform would take advantage of the UK s existing housing stock more than 11,000 homes across the country have been empty for at least 10 years. Positively, bridging loans are rising in popularity in the UK, with this form of short-term finance offering fast capital to property investors keen to expand their portfolio through the acquisition of run-down or derelict buildings. For example, someone in possession of a run-down property can acquire a loan against the value of the property to finance a renovation or refurbishment project. Once completed, the bridging loan can then be paid back to the lender through the sale of the property, ensuring maximum capital gain in a short space of time for the borrower. Effectively reforming the UK s property market While undoubtedly attractive to investors and consistently competitive for buyers, the UK s residential property market is evidently facing a number of important challenges affecting both renters and homeowners. The research findings clearly demonstrate the public s desire to have new laws introduced to prevent gazumping, and in turn, reduce the risk of a property chain collapsing.

6 Furthermore, although there is a difference in policy preferences between UK renters and those who own multiple properties, there is one common factor binding both of these groups together; namely, targeted action to ensure property remains accessible, supported by a legal framework that encourages people to access real estate opportunities. The UK public is clearly open to the introduction of new reforms that target specific aspects of the sector, and the Government needs to recognise and promote the interests of renters and homeowners. Moreover, the survey highlights the need for Westminster to consider creative initiatives for improving housing supply and supporting potential buyers. For example, since 2008 accessing the capital required to finance residential developments has become a much more onerous process. This has had a significant impact on SME developers, with the majority (57%) of small construction firms identifying access to finance as the biggest obstacle they currently face. To address this pressing issue, the Government needs to look to the thriving alternative finance sector to understand how bridging loans can be used to finance SME construction projects. With Brexit fast approaching, the challenges facing the property sector cannot be ignored; doing so would risk seeing demand continue to outpace supply, ultimately cutting off more people from accessing the housing market. As such, MFS research provides timely and much needed insight into the key concerns of people from different segments of the property market.

7 MFS Berkeley Square House Berkeley Square Mayfair London W1J 6BD United Kingdom T: +44 (0) E:

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