First Time Buyers Unite - Our Open Letter to the Government

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Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

10 Downing Street

London  SW1A 2AA



StepLadder hosted a roundtable discussion on “Tackling the Housing Crisis” on 19th September 2019, at the Grand Committee Room, Palace of Westminster. Given a well-reported range of steepening challenges to home ownership and corresponding collapse in home ownership rates, the emergence and anxiety of ‘Generation Rent’ is no surprise.

We brought together key people across the housing industry such as social action groups, housing associations, social media influencers, mortgage advisers and solicitors. We were joined by representatives from the Greater London Authority, Parliament and Government. Most importantly, we welcomed First Time Buyers (many already StepLadder members) facing the challenge of reaching that first rung on the property ladder.

Our goal together is to develop tactical, achievable changes to policy and regulation with direct positive impact for prospective first time home buyers. We know your Government shares this urgency of purpose.

Will this Government join us in supporting aspiring first time buyers by signing up to these points:

Fixing Policy (1): Modify the Lifetime and Help-to-Buy ISA to be released on Exchange, rather than on Completion. This savings scheme was designed for savers and the deposit portion of their home purchase, yet not available when first time buyers actually need to commit deposit funds.

Fixing Policy (2): Replace Help-to-Buy equity loans with a regulatory defined class of First-time-buyer mortgages, with corresponding supportive capital treatment, available for all those finally reaching the first rung of the property ladder.

Empower Technology (1): Enabling and promoting the integration of Open Banking for evaluating credit risk and responsibility. Mortgage finance, as an area of credit underwriting, is one of the most risk averse and slowest to embrace innovation, even in the face of evidently deficient methodologies widely in practice today.

Empower Technology (2): Making lender affordability responsive to life-cycles, not just looking at buyers current income, but their future potential also. The insight from data and predictive power of modern finance should serve the first time buyers, and not just banks.

Adopt Innovation: We believe in collaborative finance. Our unique peer-to-peer product pairs social capital with individual financial capital and personal support. Accelerate uptake by extending the same salary sacrifice treatment as riskier investment initiatives and ring fence the regulatory treatment of intrinsically community-based finance.

Reform Mortgages: Mortgage finance should suit real home buyers and their budgets, rather than reflect consensus financing terms convenient for incumbents. The dearth of long-term fixed-rate mortgages in the UK best illustrates this market failure.

We welcome an on-going dialogue with policy makers, regulators and industry participants to shape implementation of the points above. However, the first time buyer must come first – if we are truly to remedy Generation Rent.

Thank you for your time, attention and action –

Lucy Mullins, Mihir Bhushan, and Matthew Addison

StepLadder co-founders


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*By filling in this form you agree to add your name to the open letter. Your information will not be shared.

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