"As we approach what is a pivotal juncture for the industry – with the scheme due to come to an end in 2021 – clarity is urgently needed over what will come next."
Help to Buy completions totalled 13,937 in Q4 2017, the largest quarterly total seen since the scheme was launched in 2013, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.
Completions rose from the 10,229 recorded in Q3 and 12,239 in Q4 2016.
A total of 158,883 properties have now been purchased since the launch of the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme.
Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA, commented: “These statistics show that there is still considerable appetite for Help to Buy among first-time buyers. As we approach what is a pivotal juncture for the industry – with the scheme due to come to an end in 2021 – clarity is urgently needed over what will come next.
“The scheme has already helped over 150,000 households into home ownership – and with the government setting itself targets to build a million new homes by 2020, it seems counter-intuitive to close the door on what has been a successful vehicle for helping to purchase those new homes.
“The housing crisis continues to be a political hot potato. As shown by IMLA’s own research, the Help to Buy scheme made up 27% of all new housing completions between April 2013 and March 2017, so its role in helping people get onto the ladder cannot be underestimated.
“The government has emphasised its commitment to mend the ‘broken housing market’, to speed up the planning process and to improve the whole buying and selling experience for consumers. But it will take time to put these proposals in place, and longer before their effects are felt. Help to Buy’s impact has been fairly immediate – and it’s unclear why it should not continue.
“Forty three percent of all new build properties are currently dependent on Help to Buy, so the potential effect of any withdrawal would be significant, not just to developers and lenders, but also to consumers who may, in turn, see house prices increase.
“IMLA, along with many industry stakeholders, would welcome an announcement – or at least a firm indication – that some form of government support will continue post-2021. We would welcome discussions with government as to what that continuation might look like: some adjustments might be appropriate given the experience to date – but the impact which the scheme has had on new home ownership is surely too significant for it simply to be abandoned at this stage.”