A rooftop view of houses

General election: four changes we think could help home-movers

We know that most people (95%) planning to move this year say the upcoming general election won’t affect their plans.

But over the coming weeks each of the parties will outline what they would do to help home-movers if they win the election, so we asked over 14,000 people, along with estate agents and our Rightmove experts, what changes they would like to see. You can also submit any questions you have about the housing market to us, and our experts will answer as many as they can.

Based on our research, the four key priorities that the next government should tackle include: speeding up house-building, help for first-time buyers, a review of stamp duty costs, and greater incentives to reduce the costs of making homes greener.

1. Speeding up house-building and more first-time buyer support

More new homes are needed

If new homes can be built more quickly, while still maintaining their quality, it could help more people wanting to move to their next home or to get on to the property ladder.

Demand from buyers – which we measure as people contacting agents on Rightmove – is up by 15% since 2019, but the number of available homes is down by 6%. In the rental market, demand from tenants is up by 32%, and the number of available homes is down 38%.

This has pushed up asking prices and rents. The national average asking price is now 22% higher than five years ago, at £375,131, and national advertised rents are up by 40%, at £1,479 per calendar month.

Our property expert Tim Bannister says: “One way that could help is if the next government can create smoother planning processes to transform the delivery of new homes and produce more affordable housing. Not only could this help first-time buyers, it could also open up a big opportunity to help downsizers move to greener homes with lower running costs.”

In our study, building more homes is the fourth highest priority among renters when asked what they want to see from the next government. The fast-growing Build-to-Rent sector has helped to bring in new developments, however there is still nowhere near enough homes to meet demand.

Longer-term solutions to help first-time buyers

The most requested change among renters from the next government was more support to get on to the property ladder. Elevated mortgage rates in recent years has made it challenging for people trying to juggle paying rent, saving for a deposit, and earning enough to be accepted for a mortgage. This is especially true for people trying to buy on their own.

Our mortgage expert Matt Smith suggests a review of mortgage affordability criteria could help: “There’s an opportunity to unlock greater affordability in a responsible way, which could help more first-time buyers get on the ladder. First-time buyers are already taking out longer mortgage terms and lender innovation has included the introduction of longer-term fixed rates that are likely to be part of the solution as they help by ensuring certainty of payments.

“Various mortgage schemes have played their part and supported a number of people, and we know from our study that people would like to see new schemes introduced, but we think longer-term solutions would be more effective than short-term schemes. Either way, it’s most likely that regulatory change is needed, so it’s critical that the government works with regulators and lenders from day one on any mortgage solutions, to ensure buy-in and take up, which will in turn create more options for first-time buyers.”

2. Stamp Duty changes

The biggest change that home-owners and agents would like the government to introduce is a reform of the stamp duty system.

The barrier that stamp duty presents, especially in higher-priced locations, could be preventing thousands of people from moving.

Since 2022, first-time buyers in England and Northern Ireland have been exempt from paying stamp duty on properties priced up to £425,000. However, this relief is due to end in April next year.

Tim says: “At the very least, the next government should make the current changes to first-time buyer stamp duty charges in England and Northern Ireland permanent. But there’s also a bigger opportunity to reform stamp duty to encourage more movement up and down the property ladder. With such regional differences in property prices, increasing stamp duty thresholds in line with these regional differences would seem a logical first step for stamp duty reform.”

In London, only 4% of homes for sale are exempt from the current stamp duty charges for all buyers, compared to 71% in the North East.

You can check the current Stamp Duty rates here.

3. Incentives to help people make their homes greener

Green incentives are the third most requested change of the next government from home-owners. For renters, legislation for landlords to upgrade homes came in their top five.

A proposed deadline for landlords to improve homes up to an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C was scrapped, and there is a lack of awareness among home-owners about what changes they should make and why.

Home-owners also need better and easier access to schemes that enable them to make green improvements, with the recognition that each home requires different improvements, and that currently the upfront costs are a big barrier to change.

4. Simplifying and speeding up the home-buying process

Ways to simplify the home-buying process are the second most requested change from Rightmove’s study among home-owners.

It is currently taking an average of more than seven months from when someone puts their home up for sale until they move. This painfully long timeframe, with no recent improvement, means home-movers have to navigate a complex and frustrating process. We think that the next government, working closely with the property industry, should prioritise speeding up home-moving process to encourage a less stressful and more seamless process for home-movers.

We hope that whatever changes the next government bring in are long-term solutions to help more home-movers across the UK, rather than short-term schemes than only help people at a certain time.

Homeowners: top five priorities for the next government  

1. Reforming the stamp duty system
2. Simplifying the home-buying process
3. Incentives to help home-owners make green improvements
4. More mortgage schemes to help people afford to move
5. Incentives for downsizing

Renters: top five priorities for the next government

1. More support for first-time buyers
2. More mortgage schemes to help people afford to move
3. Simplifying the home-buying process
4. Building more homes
5. Legislation to improve the energy efficiency of rental homes

READ MORE: What does the general election mean for the housing market?

Please note: Rightmove is not authorised to give financial advice; the information and opinions provided in these articles are not intended to be financial advice and should not be relied upon when making financial decisions. Please seek advice from a regulated mortgage adviser.

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