Letters: Mortgage plan meets demand

JEFF Salway has an “uneasy feeling” that, by removing the obstacle of high deposit requirements to help credit-worthy buyers of new homes, our MI New Home mortgage indemnity scheme will “prolong Scotland’s housing market downturn” (Business, 18 March).

The simple facts are that: – overall new housing production in Scotland is now at its lowest level in over 80 years (outside of World War Two);

– the number of mortgage advances to Scottish first-time buyers has fallen by half from 35,300 in 2007 to 16,900 in 2011;

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– “second steppers” are also finding it increasingly difficult to get off the “first rung” of the housing ladder.

Scotland has two choices in relation to the above: act now to help meet pent-up demand, relieve housing pressures elsewhere, encourage investment and create jobs or do nothing and deal with the far-reaching social and economic consequences later.

Far from prolonging the downturn, MI New Home has been specifically developed to get the market moving again as quickly as possible by bridging the deposit gap for those who can sensibly and sustainably afford higher loan to value mortgages whilst meeting the robust affordability criteria and application processes lenders currently have in place. It has the potential to make huge differences across a range of fundamental areas and should therefore be welcomed by all those who wish to ensure the full range of Scotland’s housing needs are met.

Jonathan Fair, chief executive, Homes for Scotland

EMPTY properties do indeed cost owners dear. But the cost is not from the potential increase in council tax which the Scottish Government is proposing – it lies in the lost rent or lost receipt which the owner could be receiving from letting or selling the empty property.

And there is also a community cost to empty properties. Empty homes can reduce nearby house values by as much as 18 per cent – on top of increased risk of burglary, arson or anti-social behaviour. That is why it is right for the Scottish Government to take firm action on empty property.

Graeme Brown, director, Shelter Scotland, Edinburgh