30 NOV 2017

First time buyers

Kent Messenger Column - 30-11-17

It was in the early 1980's when I first took the plunge into the housing market; 15 California Road, Carlisle. It cost me £14,000 and felt like 'an arm and a leg' at the time, but compared with today I know I was fortunate; the purchase price was about twice my annual income.

LOL!! say my two grown-up sons who, like so many of their generation, are struggling to get on the home ownership ladder. 'Renting's is OK just now' they tell me, but they know a home of your own gives you control, choice, security, an asset for later years and they really want to buy.

The numbers are so different from the 80's; In Maidstone the average house price is estimated at £278k, over 9 times the average salary. On that equation my first house would have cost £65,000 - totally out of reach at that time.

Hundreds of constituents in Maidstone & the Weald have provided feedback through a recent questionnaire I sent out covering this particular problem. The majority of my survey respondents feel some form of financial help should be afforded to first time buyers. I was delighted, therefore, that in last week's budget the Government immediately abolished stamp duty for first time buyers on properties of £300,000 or less. This will save around £3,000 off the cost of buying an average priced house here; a significant sum in the scheme of things.

The second most common local opinion I received on this issue (in the same survey) is that we should be building homes priced within the reach of young people. Our recently adopted local plan pledges (controversially) to deliver some 18,000 new homes in the borough until 2031, for better or for worse! We now need to ensure the right types of property are constructed, in the right places, with the right supporting infrastructure; same ol' song.

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