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Nine Months on – How Help-to-buy Is Affecting the House Building Market

November 6, 2014

Debates about Help-to-Buy rumble on, but it’s already clear that house building software is key to helping builders factor its impact into their sums.

When Help-to-Buy (HTB) was unveiled in the 2013 Budget, Chancellor George Osborne promised £12 billion in mortgage guarantees to revitalise the stagnant house-buying market.

A year on, he extended the scheme from 2016 to 2020 and predicted that 120,000 homes would be built between those years.

It’s a far more efficient way to promote house-building than government spending, as it leverages private money,” the Chancellor’s aides told the media.

Some thought HTB would create a price bubble, but by mid-2014, such fears were being downplayed. In July, Bovis Homes said the scheme had underpinned the best first-half in its 129-year history, with sales up a whopping 54% year-on-year.

Research by removals specialist Bishop’s Move, however, then suggested huge regional variations in awareness of HTB. In the North-East, 25% knew nothing of it. Many in the South-West (28%) and Yorkshire (26%) had heard of it, but didn’t know what it was.

Parliament’s spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), published a damning report saying HTB flouted Treasury guidelines as optional ways of using the funds hadn’t been considered.

“The government has committed to spending up to £10 billion on supporting this scheme, without establishing if it represents the most effective way of using taxpayers’ money,” said PAC chair, Margaret Hodge.

Housebuilders then faced two serious questions.

  • How should they effectively factor in regional variations to their business models?
  • How swiftly could they re-adjust if Ms Hodge’s Labour party came to power in 2015 and abolished HTB?

Using specialist house-building software is the most obvious solution. To increase efficiency and certainty for now, enabling rapid future fine-tuning without the need to hire expensive specialist staff.

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