Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that some builders and housing associations will offer local London workers and residents ‘first dibs’ on new-build homes up to £350,000.
After research conducted last year found that around half of the capital’s new homes purchased by overseas buyers were priced at less than £500,000, the mayor has helped launch the new voluntary scheme in order to help local people buy properties in London.
Property developers the Berkeley Group, along with some members of the Home Builders Federation and g15 – representing the capital’s 15 biggest housing associations including Redrow and Taylor Wimpey – have all signed up. They will offer new-build properties priced at up to £350,000 solely to Londoners for the first month, before opening them out to UK buyers in general for the following two months. Investors from overseas will only be allowed into the mix after the properties have had three months on the market.
Mayor Khan said: “I am determined we take meaningful steps to help Londoners buy more new homes they can afford, and the offer from across the housing industry will mean we can move quickly to make this a reality for our city.
“Through the extensive research I commissioned, I was alarmed to discover that overseas buyers were focusing to such an extent on the lower-cost end of new-build homes – many of which were being sold long before Londoners even knew they were available.”
Does it go far enough?
The scheme has come under some criticism due to its voluntary nature, which some believe does not go far enough to help people from the UK get a look in on the London property market.
Sian Berry, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, said: “We’ve waited a long time for the details from the Mayor and now all we see is another voluntary agreement with even fewer firms signed up.
“I’ve asked the Mayor before about his focus on overseas buyers when the real problem is people snapping up homes they don’t intend to live in, rather than where they come from.”
Tory City Hall housing spokesman Andrew Boff has also raised his concerns that the upper limit of £350,000 could encourage developers to increase asking prices to avoid offering homes at this level, which could push house prices up. However, for those who do benefit, it will offer a chance to get onto the elusive London property ladder, and there is no detriment to the seller whether the buyers are local or from overseas.