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The recent policy changes in contemplation by the government to change the current requirements in respect of affordable rented properties, in favour of building starter homes to buy, is a policy geared towards a shift in emphasis from renting to home owning. It is all part of the government’s pledge to get Britain building.
The policy is likely to be met with cautious approval by developers who have argued for years that the definition of affordable housing should include ‘discounted sale housing’. While properties can be sold and income received in the short term rather than the longer rental process—which may be favourable to developers—it is possible that as the time taken to sell properties is generally longer than to let, there will be a delay in progressing developments such that house building could actually slow down. The policy may end up having the opposite effect to that intended if, ultimately, house building becomes more profitable such that land prices increase pushing up house prices in the long term. However, if the policy results in more flexibility for developers, as seems likely, reducing burdens placed on developers through section 106 agreements will be welcomed by the industry in the short term, making sites more commercially attractive.
What is unclear is how many people the policy will actually help get a step on the property ladder, and what exactly is ‘affordable’ in the government’s eyes. If the starter homes are to be sold for a maximum of £450,000 in London, and £250,000 el
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