Ainscough Strategic Land Managing Director, Rachael Ainscough, has her say on how the UK housing sector is currently playing the long game
The ‘long game’ that governs the property development cycle is keeping the house-building industry going through the current crisis.
The need for housebuilders to ensure that they have a sufficiently robust pipeline on a three to five-year horizon means that deal flow is continuing, generating work for a wide range of professions.
And, says Rachael Ainscough, managing director of Ainscough Strategic Land, which delivers consented sites to housebuilders, current activity is showing no signs of slowing down, despite the temporary inconvenience of re-organising teams to work remotely.
“We have a number of acquisitions and disposals progressing with lawyers at the moment because, come what may, the industry has to be ready to push on when restrictions are lifted,” said Ainscough.
“Our place in the property cycle can cope with physical dislocation thanks to technology, so we can keep cracking on,” she added, confirming that all the Ainscough team are now working from home.
But, she argues, government needs to play its part to ensure consumers are ‘ready to go’ when restrictions are lifted – and that means extending the timeframe for Help to Buy.
The current Help to Buy scheme will require properties being sold using this scheme to be built by December this year, whilst the new Help to Buy scheme running to 2023 is more limiting on who qualifies based on regional caps on loan-to-value ratios and is only applicable to first time buyers.
“Those purchasers using the current scheme may well not be in a position to complete on their houses if the build is not completed in time, due to the anticipated slowdown in construction between now and then. It is clear the transition period from the current scheme to the new scheme needs extending. We need government to signal this now so that consumers and the industry can factor this into their planning. Not to do so will cause a logjam that will inevitably take months to unclog. If government takes the right decisions now, we could avoid that issue.”