What the papers say - 15th and 16th March 2008

Last week’s budget and the issues it raised about the property market were the primary focus of the weekend press. Nearly all the national newspapers featured articles on the Chancellor’s hopes for long-term fixed rates and the changes to shared-equity and shared ownership schemes. However, a much hoped for revision of stamp duty did not materialise, leaving many potential first-time buyers disappointed.  The Times reported Alistair Darling’s new rules on shared-equity schemes; government assistance has increased to 50 per cent, up from 25 per cent. The Chancellor also announced that buyers who purchase 80pc of the value of their home through one of the Government’s shared ownership schemes will not pay stamp duty. The Daily Telegraph argued that this was good news in practice, but that high tax bills may arise later. Overall coverage of these changes seemed relatively positive, as low-income households and key workers should now have an improved chance of getting on to the housing ladder.  Long-term fixed rates were a crucial topic as well and the Sunday Express summed up the best deals on the market. The Independent on Sunday weighed up the pros and cons of committing to a 25-year mortgage deal and concluded that lack of flexibility and high early repayment charges will discourage many people from signing up to these types of mortgage. Nonetheless, several case studies showed some of the homeowners who had taken long-term rates and felt comfortable with the stability and security that they offered.

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