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Mar 2013

New Housing Deposit ISA proposed as house prices rise

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a leading UK business organisation, has called on George Osborne to use the Budget to boost the housing market. The CBI has suggested that the Chancellor introduce a housing deposit ISA to encourage saving. "Combined with proactive marketing of the FirstBuy and NewBuy Government schemes", the CBI claims, "this would help overcome the perception among first-time buyers that they are unable to get a foot on the housing ladder."

House prices up by 0.5% in February

It could be a timely move for Osborne in terms of raising first-time buyer confidence, as house prices rose 0.5% in February. This takes the average UK house cost up from £162,844 to £163,600 in just one month. However, it's vital to remember that these figures are averages across the UK and thus are purely representative. Regional differences can add huge variation to housing prices, as anyone who has ever tried to buy a property within striking distance of London will know only too well. As Mark Harris, of mortgage brokers SPF Private Clients, puts it: "It is worth remembering that national averages conceal significant regional differences, with prices falling in parts of the country while rising in others. The north-south divide grows ever wider."

Property sales up, mortgage approvals down

House sales have seen a tentative rise, too, increasing from 82,280 in December 2012 to 82,320 in January 2013, representing the seventh successive monthly increase in sales. Interestingly, one of the leading signs of successful housing sales - the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases - declined by 2% between December 2012 and January 2013.*

Martin Ellis, housing economist for Halifax, commented that: "This increase in both prices and activity in recent months is consistent with evidence of some improvement in market conditions."

"The more than half-a-million increase in the number of people in employment over the past year is likely to have been a factor supporting housing demand." Ellis continues. However, while anticipating growth over the course of the coming year, he also cautions that: "Weak income growth and continuing below-trend economic growth, however, are likely to remain significant constraints on housing demand."

Could housing deposit ISAs offer a solution?

Would a housing deposit ISA - a specific, tax-free vehicle to save up for a first home - help more of us get on the property ladder? The proposals could certainly help ease the burden on parents currently helping their adult children save up the money for a deposit.

However, until such time as these proposals come into force, ISAs can provide a good way to save for a housing deposit, in spite of the constraints of annual allowances. By transferring your ISA balance each year to stay on top of the best deals, you can build up a substantial sum. Use the tables below to compare some of our best current ISA deals.

*Source: Bank of England

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