Springing Forwards

Published: 23/03/2021 By Tam van Wyk

We’re now officially in spring. March is that time of year when we normally look forward with optimism to the months ahead. This time around, I can safely say that feeling is more pronounced than ever.

It has been a very long, dark winter but now it’s over and we will soon be emerging from lockdown, too. As a result, everything is starting to look an awful lot brighter. The kids are already back at school. Pub gardens and restaurants with any outside space are starting to get booked up and there are some impressive waiting lists building for the re-opening of hairdressers and barbers as the April rule changes approach. Even the weather seems to be getting in on the act, with the thermometer slowly edging upwards.

And there was more good news from the budget. Many had predicted the Chancellor would substantially increase capital gains tax, matching it to our income tax bands. It would have been a serious blow to landlords, many of whom would have had to pay it at the higher rate of 40% when they sold their properties.

In an attempt to avoid the rise, quite a few landlords had already used the stamp duty holiday to sell some of their properties. There were audible sighs of relief when it was announced the tax would remain unchanged.

It’s perhaps those who aspire to owning their own homes who will be the most pleased by the budget, with the introduction of the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme for 95% LTV loans on homes of up to £600,000. Access to mortgages for those with smaller deposits has been problematic since the beginning of the pandemic. This may well begin to reverse that process and, at the same time, release a good deal of pent-up demand. To add to that, any of those renters and buyers who had been reluctant to move during the pandemic lockdown are likely to burst onto the market when all the remaining restrictions are lifted on 21st June. I think we are all looking forward to that day and I suspect there may be a party or two to celebrate.