How govern­ment can lay foun­da­tions for mar­ket im­prove­ment

Yorkshire Post - Property - - STRUTT & PARKER -

when mar­ket­ing com­mences, so let’s fol­low the lead of our more re­laxed Euro­pean cousins.

In France, Por­tu­gal and other coun­tries, the cer­tifi­cate is re­quired only when terms for pur­chase are agreed.

Un­til this change is made, the abo­li­tion of the HIP only goes half-way to en­cour­ag­ing more spec­u­la­tive ven­dors into the mar­ket and min­imis­ing wasted con­sumer ex­pen­di­ture.

Stream­line the pro­vi­sion of in­for­ma­tion

The HIP was flawed from the out­set, but it did at least con­cen­trate at­ten­tion on the need to speed up the process of col­lat­ing pa­pers and searches prior to sale. The new Govern­ment should con­trast the speed and ef­fi­ciency of the pro­vi­sion of in­for­ma­tion from the util­i­ties and other agen­cies, with the slower and more cum­ber­some process of com­plet­ing lo­cal author­ity searches and con­firm­ing plan­ning is­sues.

Cre­ate a trans­par­ent con­veyanc­ing process

The Land Registry is slowly mak­ing progress in its e-con­veyanc­ing plans.

The third con­sul­ta­tion on its pro­pos­als would be a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide ad­di­tional sup­port and en­cour­age­ment for this ini­tia­tive. The abil­ity for agents, so­lic­i­tors, buy­ers and sell­ers to view the progress of their chain in a trans­par­ent way on­line should re­move a con­sid­er­able amount of the frus­tra­tion caused by the lack of in­for­ma­tion pro­vided dur­ing the pur­chase process.

Li­cence es­tate and let­tings agents.

With the pro­lif­er­a­tion of con­sumer pro­tec­tion leg­is­la­tion cov­er­ing the es­tate agency process, the Prop­erty Mis­de­scrip­tions Act and Money Laun­der­ing Reg­u­la­tions among oth­ers, the in­tro­duc­tion of a for­mal li­cens­ing sys­tem for es­tate agents would en­sure that their con­sumer pro­tec­tion role is en­hanced and pro­moted, and would be a pos­i­tive step to­wards in­creas­ing con­sumer con­fi­dence.

En­cour­age the build­ing of homes peo­ple ac­tu­ally want to live in.

If we are go­ing to re­tain hous­ing tar­gets, and it seems likely that they will sur­vive in some form, make sure they are based on the amount of ac­com­mo­da­tion pro­vided (bed­room counts or floor area) not on num­bers of units. This will mean that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are en­cour­aged to ap­prove devel­op­ment for the type of hous­ing needed by fam­i­lies in the UK rather than tick­ing boxes in or­der to ful­fil a mean­ing­less cen­tral dik­tat. Re­form un­help­ful taxes The Lib-Dem pro­posal for equal­is­ing VAT for new-build and for re­fur­bish­ment was an ob­vi­ous non-starter. But how about lev­el­ling down the other way – to zero?

With most “green” pol­icy ini­tia­tives aimed at new-build de­vel­op­ments, the re­moval of VAT on the re­fur­bish­ment and ren­o­va­tion of our ex­ist­ing hous­ing stock would be a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward, par­tic­u­larly when we come to think about retrofitting green tech­nolo­gies into older homes.

And while you’re at it, why not re­form the cur­rent slab struc­ture of Stamp Duty, which sends tax bills soar­ing just be­cause a house buyer spends an ex­tra £1 over one of the £250,000, £500,000 and (from next April) £1m thresh­olds. The cur­rent sys­tem dis­torts the mar­ket, dis­cour­ages liq­uid­ity and dam­ages labour mar­ket flex­i­bil­ity.

It seems likely that it is too late to change the de­ci­sion over the new high CGT rates, but we would say that an ef­fort must be made to a recog­nise the dif­fer­ence be­tween short-term and longer-term cap­i­tal gains on in­vest­ments, with an in­dex­a­tion al­lowance at the very least and ide­ally a re­vived ta­per re­lief struc­ture.

Tim War­ing is Knight Frank’s head of res­i­den­tial in the North of Eng­land.

FREE­HOLD: Gar­forth House on Mick­le­gate in York.

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