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April 2009


Will there be any reason(s) to say 'Thank You, Darling' on April 22?

THE National Association of Estate Agents is calling on the Government to pull the housing market out of its slump, help first-time buyers and set the country on course for economic recovery.

In a submission delivered to Downing Street, the NAEA has outlined a five-point recovery plan for Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling to follow when he announces his Budget on April 22.

In its pre-Budget submission, the Association calls on Mr Darling to:

bullit Abolish or reform Stamp Duty Land Tax;
bullit Boost liquidity to free up lending;
bullit Improve access to finance for first-time buyers;
bullit Suspend Home Information Packs;
bullit Help property owners and tenants to stay in their homes.

Peter Bolton King, the NAEA’s chief executive, said: “The state of the housing market reflects the overall health of the economy. The Government must take urgent and immediate action to support it.

“The measures proposed by the NAEA are achievable, they are practicable and they will help to boost confidence in the market amongst consumers.

“These measures give specific support to the thousands of people who aspire to buy their first home but who are frustrated by the lack of lending currently hampering the housing market.

“If the Chancellor takes heed, then homeowners and homehunters across the country will have five reasons to say ‘Thank you, Darling’.”

But meanwhile, there appear to be promising signs that the housing market might have ‘plateaued’ and on its way to recovery.

The NAEA’s own monthly survey of its members reported a rise in sales in February, with agents selling an average of eight properties over the month.

That meant that the number of sales had returned to the same level as 12 months ago.

The return of first-time buyers to the market, noted in January, also held firm, dropping just one per cent from 25 to 24 as a percentage of total sales.

Chris Brown, the NAEA’s president, said: “This sales increase is a real boost for a beleaguered market. It shows that the demand identified by the NAEA is slowly but surely translating into sales.

“The housing market has had a devastating year, but now prices are lower than they have been for a long time and there are bargains to be had. These little signs all add up to a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long and difficult tunnel.”

Hopes that the housing market could have levelled out were further boosted by figures showing that the number of mortgages approved for house purchase jumped 19 per cent during February.

The total of 37,937 loans approved for people buying a home during the month was the highest level since May last year, according to the Bank of England.