Hammond said: “We choose the future. To run toward change, not to run from it.” And the future was largely about bricks and mortar it seems.
But for several years, housing and the mortgage industries have been the headline, if not the rabbit out of the hat in the Budget speech. The drinks industry is probably the only other one celebrating as hard over the tax freeze on wine and beer yet again this year, possibly having more fun while doing it too.
But in just over an hour, Hamond calmly-delivered stamp duty exemptions, effective immediately to any first-time buyer on a property worth up to £300,000 or higher in expensive areas.
Next, he committed £44bn of housing support to unlock the housing market, starting with an £8bn allocation to support private builders and build to rent firms, alongside a swath of other measures.
Business owners were targeted and will warmly receive the bits of the speech including Hammond’s announcement he would be maintaining the VAT threshold and slowing the gradual rise in business rates. The switch is worth £2.3bn to business over five years, Hammond said.
In other stories, the chancellor set a challenge for the property and fintech companies as he launched a competition to see which tech company could come up with a tool to help rental history count toward mortgage affordability and credit scores for mortgage lenders. We’ll keep a close eye on that.
The stamp duty surcharge and rent-a-room relief were hidden in the dusty corners of Budget small print and not explicitly mentioned by Philip Hammond in his speech. But it’s a bid to close oft-exploited loopholes with partners handing off 1% of their equity to avoid the buy-to-let surcharge. Not any more.
Empty property home owners are in the firing line for a 100% Council Tax surcharge if those homes are tenant-free. This isn’t going to be much of an earner but is a symbolic shot across the bows from the Chancellor.
And finally, the Office for Budget Responsibility has offered its humble opinion that the chancellor’s stamp duty cut for first-time buyers can only drive up property prices and so, end up benefiting homeowners. It’s not the only critic either, with the BSA and LSE chiming in.
That’s your 2017 Budget roundup on Mortgage Solutions.