Our Christmas Wish List
Christmas has come early with much needed reform of stamp duty tax. Unfortunately the fix-list for homeowners doesn't end there. With so much to put right before homeowning can be a fulfilling and less costly experience, this Christmas we're asking George, Ed and Nick to :
1. Ban unfair estate agents practices
Lengthy sole agency tie-in periods, hidden fee charges, a right to commission beyond the term of the contract….the list goes on. Add to that the fact agents are now charging fees to both the homeseller and buyer in a Sale by Tender double whammy and you have some really nasty practices aimed squarely at milking consumers. No government wants to introduce regulation but we’re not sure the current Code of Practice is having much effect.
2. Make buying and selling houses more certain and predictable
Buying a home is one of the most stressful times in people’s lives but it doesn’t have to be so. Let’s stamp out gazumping and gazundering. We would welcome your thoughts on how to do this. We think the fix is simple. If a seller pulls out of a purchase before exchange, they should be required to pay the costs the buyer has incurred – survey costs, mortgage costs, as well as compensation. And that the price agreed after the survey results is binding – to stop one party take advantage of the other by last minute price negotiations. And while we are at it, let’s get more information to the buyers and sellers so they can make informed choices, for example about how much they should pay their estate agent and how much more it costs to move house on a Friday.
3. Cut VAT on extensions, home improvements and repairs
With house prices what they are, many of us can’t afford to move, so have to improve. Please don’t make this option prohibitive by taxing us a whopping 20%. House builders are charged 5% to build new homes – spread the love to homeowners too. Read more about our cut the VAT campaign >>>
4. Make new build homes commonhold not leasehold
Many of our visitors and members are leaseholders struggling to extend their lease before they depreciate in value. It’s costly, complicated, stressful and only acts to line the pockets of freeholders.
There are 4.1 million privately owned leasehold homes in England, and 1.9 million flats rented in the social sector. That’s 25 per cent of all housing. The number of leaseholds is only set to grow: over the last 10 years, 40 per cent of all new build has been flats, with that figure rising to almost 90 per cent in the Capital.
Isn’t it time the government reformed the system and unleashed homeowners from this costly bureaucratic and outdated form of property ownership? By continuing to sanction leasehold we continue to make life difficult for leaseholders. And for all those living in leasehold properties, let’s give them more rights by acting quickly on the recommendations of the competition watchdog, the CMA. Homeowners should be able to get rid of dodgy property managers. The CMA also urges that buyers are given more information about what buying a leasehold property involves which is what we do.
5. Forget mansion tax – make existing taxes fairer
We don’t need another tax, Ed. We need existing taxes to work fairly. We can tick stamp duty off our list (thanks George), and there is an argument for reforming council tax. But getting back to the subject of stamp duty, people buying their family home, buy-to-let landlords, property companies, second home buyers and foreign investors currently all pay the same stamp duty. Why don’t we tilt the balance of existing taxes like stamp duty away from those just wanting to buy the roof over their head, and towards those for whom property is an investment or a luxury. And exempt first time buyers altogether from paying the tax.