Help to build instead of Help to buy would have made homes cheaper

When Help to buy was unveiled in April 2013, house prices had taken on a solid shape after the initial financial crisis returned and the economy was stuck in the slums. Since then, house prices have risen considerably, showing Nationwide BS figures

Five and a half years ago, a struggling chancellor rolled the dice on the property market, with a movement that was both inspired and economically nonsensical.

Help-to-Buy was the last desperate attempt by George Osborne to lift the economy. He was a chancellor under heavy fire because of his austerity measures and a recovery after a recession that was noticeable by his absence.

It was a flawed plan – it would increase house prices, increase builders' profits and increase debt to name but a few problems – but it worked: more people bought houses, more was built and a revived property market helped restore the economy .

The question that now comes up is whether Help to Buy will be scaled back, dumped or that the British housing industry is so addicted that we can not go to cold turkey?

When Help to buy was unveiled in April 2013, house prices had taken on a solid shape after the initial financial crisis returned and the economy was stuck in the slums. Since then, house prices have risen considerably, showing Nationwide BS figures

When Help to buy was unveiled in April 2013, house prices had taken on a solid shape after the initial financial crisis returned and the economy was stuck in the slums. Since then, house prices have risen considerably, showing Nationwide BS figures

So, how did we get into this mess?

In 2013, the economy and the real estate market were stuck in the slums.

Housing prices had flattened after their first post-financial crisis returned. Not enough houses were built and there was concern that property was unaffordable for starters and movers.

Help to buy was the answer of the former Chancellor, with which buyers up to 20 per cent of the value of a newly built house could be free of interest for five years, to make buying easier and cheaper.

Mr. Osborne is a smart man. He knew very well that a large part of the economic slump in the United Kingdom can be traced back to high house prices – and it can not have escaped his notice that borrowing people without interest to buy something would drive up costs – but he was desperate for growth.

So, like another smart man for him that you suspect he should have known better, Gordon Brown, Osborne kept his nose up and gambled at the housing market.

As I remarked at the time, Budget Day in March 2013 was a good one to be a builder.

Help to Buy was the budget language day for the real estate market of George Osborne in 2013

Help to Buy was the budget language day for the real estate market of George Osborne in 2013

Help to Buy was the budget language day for the real estate market of George Osborne in 2013

Your potential customers were offered a large snail of almost free money to buy houses – and the only thing you had to do was build them.

Those at the top of Britain's big home builders are also smart men and women.

They realized that the Osborne plan was a godsend.

They no longer have to worry about people who do not buy their products because they are too expensive – instead the taxpayer would bridge the affordability gap.

Homebuyers also benefited in theory, because buying a house became easier, even if it was not cheaper (and the government now had a percentage interest and would like to pay interest within 5 years).

It is amazing to think that in the past five years we are still supporting the market with Help to Buy.

What is even more amazing is that you just had to turn the idea around to make it work better.

As I wrote five years ago, if we wanted to make the houses really cheaper and therefore easier to buy, we would instead have had to lend money to developers without interest – a program to help build.

As unpalatable as it sounds, this would have reduced their building costs and enabled them to sell homes profitably at a lower price. Funding could also have been linked to the fact that they had to build more houses.

Imagine how different the real estate market would look like if we had worked for five years to make new homes cheaper instead of more expensive.

What you need to know about buying a house

Buying a home, whether it's your first time or not, can be a daunting experience.

From the first hunt for trawl fishing through real estate websites to picking up the keys, it can be a laborious process with many difficult obstacles to overcome.

In this special housing podcast Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost talk about all the properties.

From what you can afford, to how you can decide whether it is a buyers or sellers' market, how much you have to offer and how you can make sure that you keep that house and do not get through it, this is essential listening to property.

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