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Questions remain over Help to Buy scheme – Nationwide

by: Andrew Baddeley-Chappell
  • 18/04/2013
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Questions remain over Help to Buy scheme – Nationwide
This year’s early Easter, which traditionally would also herald an early start to the home buying season, was rather hindered by the bracing winds and unwelcome drifts of snow that hit large parts of the country.

Similarly, it is still a little early to tell whether the various budget announcements designed to boost house sales would have any influence on the housing market.

What is clear is that, inside and outside the market, many are still getting to grips with the nature of the schemes proposed and what their impact will be. As a result, the general level of discussion that I have seen has been limited, focussing on a political rather than economic review of the scheme and how it will benefit borrowers.

This highlights the very real challenges that are faced not just by commentators but also by the wider public in seeking to understand the nature and dynamics of the housing and mortgage markets. Regulation seeks to bolster customer confidence by improving the quality and consistency of the mortgage sales process and also of the key contractual mortgage documentation.

This is, however, only one element in the course of a house purchase and one that takes place relatively late in the process. Speaking to first-time buyers in particular, it is clear that they face many barriers, ones that often seem insurmountable, before they get to this point.

Critically perhaps, they must break through a barrier that is to some extent one of perception, that the market may not be open for business or not for people like them. The budget proposals clearly seek to address this mismatch between the wishes and needs of potential buyers and the barriers ahead of them, whether real, potential or merely illusory.

Clearly there is much to do in order to deliver the guarantee element and the products to support it. From a lenders’ point of view, there is also the challenge of managing the competition for market resource in the face of the immovable timescale for the Mortgage Market Review.

In the meantime, it is important to press home the following messages. The first is that the appropriate mortgage product is probably out there, although it may be harder to spot than in the past.

The second is that by carefully and sensibly managing a credit profile, the right mortgage can be secured. Or, to put it another way, the best way to ensure that buying a dream home is an achievable dream is to spend as much time planning the mortgage process as imagining the décor and colour schemes.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell is head of mortgage strategy and policy at Nationwide

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