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What is a starter home?

Part of Housing and Planning Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 3rd May 2016.

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Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government) 5:30 pm, 3rd May 2016

Let me make some more progress on starter homes.

Amendment 1 requires on resale of the starter home the repayment of the 20% starter discount, reduced by 1% for each year of occupation for a period of 20 years. The average first-time buyer, we should bear in mind, spends just under seven years in their home—in fact, the average in the whole country is only about seven years. Asking someone to spend 20 years in a home, which they may have bought at the age of 30, and not to benefit from the discount that we promised until they are 50, simply does not stack up.

We want to ensure that starter homes are sold to people who are genuinely committed to living in an area, and not to people who simply want to secure a financial uplift by selling on quickly. However, we also want to support mobility. A balance must be struck. I propose that we disagree with Lords amendment 1, and substitute for it amendments (a), (b) and (c), which provide a power to implement a tapered approach to resale. The longer someone lives in a property, the more value that person will gain.

Our amendments provide for the Secretary of State to make regulations on the length of the taper period, and on the details of how the taper will operate. That will enable us to ensure that it is effective and delivers for people in the real world. The amendments set out two potential models for its operation. For example, when a starter home is sold, the first-time buyer must, if there is discount to be returned, pay a proportion of that discount to a specified party. That is the broad approach suggested in the other place, and I can see the logic of it. A body such as the Homes and Communities Agency could then use those funds to build more affordable homes.

As part of our consultation on starter homes regulations, we are seeking the views of developers, lenders and local authorities on how the taper would operate. We strongly believe that we should settle the matter through engagement with the sector, rather than placing the detail of restrictions in legislation. I am confident that that is the best way for us to meet our manifesto commitment on starter homes.