The trade body is proposing that the current version of the Help to Buy Scheme, due to end in April 2021, be extended to support a speedy recovery of the sector.
Mortgage Solutions understands that while there is no certainty the government will agree to the measures it, along with Homes England, has been receptive to the proposals put forward.
The existing Help to Buy scheme is open to any buyer of a new-build home. If it ends when planned qualifying sales transactions will need to be agreed by December 2020.
By removing this deadline and the requirement for builders to re-register for a new scheme with price caps that is open only to first-time buyers, builders say it would give the industry more time to recover.
Speaking to The Times, John Tutte, chairman of Redrow, said: “It makes sense for the government to extend the [Help to Buy] deadlines by 12 months. I think that will become quite important because we don’t know where the mortgage market is going to come back to.”
Stamp duty holiday
The trade body has also tabled the implementation of a stamp duty holiday to encourage people to buy a property or move home. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has also called for a stamp duty freeze for buyers.
The HBF’s immediate focus is helping developers get through the crisis and protecting the industry’s capacity to keep building when the lockdown restrictions are lifted.
As income from house sales dries up during the government’s ban on all but non-essential home moves, valuations cease and solicitors are furloughed, small builders are vulnerable to collapse because they do not sit on large cash reserves to keep them going.
Helping these firms to access government funding to stay afloat during the crisis, said the HBF, is important to maintain a diverse make up of developers when the industry re-opens.
Safe working practices
In the medium term, the HBF is working with the government on establishing working practices to allow construction work to be carried out safely.
The back-to-work plan must be coordinated with the professions builders rely on to sell homes including material suppliers, utility providers, trades such as carpet layers, removals firms and conveyancing solicitors.
It is understood the trade body is working with the government to agree a date that all parties can work towards.
Steve Turner, director of communications at the Home Builders Federation, said: “The impact on the industry has been considerable with a huge drop in income from sales and the cessation of construction work.
“We are working with all parties to support builders through the crisis and coordinate a return to work as soon as it is safe to do so. Ensuring measures are in place that enable a speedy effective and sustained return will allow house building to play a major part in helping the UK economy recover.”