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Property is the new piggy bank: we’re raiding the equity in one home to buy another

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  • The average lump sums withdrawn during the stamp duty holiday for ‘other purposes’ peaked at £106,000.
  • The size and timing of the withdrawals hints at a boom in second property purchases.
  • The average withdrawn for home improvements is over £50,000.
  • The average value of equity withdrawal for ‘other purposes’ is now around £80,000.

UK Finance has published its household review for Q3: Household-Finance-Review-2021-Q3-FINAL.pdf (ukfinance.org.uk)

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:

“Property is the new piggy bank. Since August 2020, we’ve been withdrawing more and more equity when we remortgage, as rising property prices have given people the confidence to raid the equity in their home, and the stamp duty holiday persuaded them that this was the time to snap up a second property.

UK Finance doesn’t specifically measure remortgaging to free up cash to buy property, but it highlights that given that the average amount withdrawn for ‘other reasons’ peaked during the stamp duty holiday, and is currently around £80,000, this is highly likely to include an awful lot of people snapping up another property.

The attractions of a holiday home were magnified by lockdowns, when people realised the limitations of full time city life. Meanwhile, runaway house prices presented them with the opportunity to take more equity from their home, and the stamp duty holiday provided a window during which they could pay far less tax.

The period before the stamp duty holiday was tapered in June was a golden opportunity to buy a holiday home or a buy-to-let property, because while buyers still had to pay the stamp duty surcharge, they didn’t pay any other stamp duty on the first £500,000 of the property, cutting their tax bill by thousands of pounds.

Some of these homeowners will have been raiding their own homes to fund cash for a deposit for their children to get onto the property ladder. It’s one reason why despite deposits being less affordable than ever for first time buyers (a 20% deposit is 110% of income on average), demand from first timers meant that prices of homes sold to first time buyers have been rising faster than the rest of the market.

The amount withdrawn for home improvements has also soared, and is now around £50,0000. Lockdown persuaded us to make changes to our homes, and in some cases freed up the cash to get started. This meant a boom in demand for labour and materials, which has pushed prices up, and meant raiding the property piggy bank even more comprehensively to cover the cost.”

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