Yes, you are right. Controlling the numbers of people coming to the UK to live and work is an important part of restoring balance to our housing market. The Prime Minister has promised to do that.
Now I have got that out of the way, I want to talk about the supply of homes, and effective demand from people already legally settled here. The most recent house price figures show prices going up by 4.6% a year, down from the 11.8% annual rate recorded last June. They show people having much more difficulty in raising a mortgage than prior to the crash, thanks mainly to much tougher regulation today over eligibility and suitability for a loan. The most recent figures show mortgage approvals up by 10% (April compared to March) but still running at little more than half the levels reached just prior to the crash of 2007-8.
The government’s Stamp duty reforms have smoothed the market by removing the unhelpful steps in duty at the points on the scale where higher rates kicked in. The missing areas in the price ranges can now reappear without the slab tax. Homes under £925,000 now attract a bit less Stamp duty than before. Stamp Duty remains, however, a substantial cost which does add to the difficulty of buying your first home, and can deter people from moving to a better home. At present duty rates the buyer of the £250,000 property pays £2,500 in tax, of the £500,000 property £15,000 in tax, and the £750,000 one incurs a £27,500 charge. Lower and smoother Stamp duty is a modest assistance to home buyers.
More new homes are being built than during the crash. The construction of private sector new homes is now 75% above the low point reached in the third quarter of 2009, though still below past peak levels.It is likely the build rate will rise from here, with more land now available for construction and a reasonably healthy housebuilding industry enjoying the profits of recent growth. There are still substantial imbalances between different parts of the country. Success with the Northern Powerhouse could help reduce some of the pressures on London and the South east, and release more money for improvement and extension of the substantial Northern residential estate, just as the London stock has undergone transformation in recent years.