When I saw the title of this article from the Scottish Herald, I cringed; a seven point plan to saving housing? There is nothing that can save the housing market. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The article contained much that I could agree with.
Here is the plan:
1. Restore the old building-society benchmarks limiting loans to three or three-and-a-half times income, with deposits of 15%.
2. Interest-only mortgages should be outlawed, as should "suicide" loans which are higher than the value of the property.
3. End self-certification. It is unacceptable for brokers to connive with mortgage-seekers in misrepresenting the borrower's earnings so that the banks can give them loans they cannot afford.
4. End the securitisation of mortgage debt.
5. Make housing an economic objective of the planning laws. At present you can build any number of out-of-town shopping centres, because they create jobs, but you can't build houses.
6. End right-to-buy and restore council housing.
7. End tax breaks for buy-to-let landlords. Why should people who buy houses as investments be allowed to set their mortgages against tax, while people who buy to live can't?
The article ends with a promise:
"Introduce these measures and, within five years, house prices would be stable and affordable. People would no longer have to live in fear of their debts and would be able to turn their attention to more productive activities than house-price speculation."
Seems reasonable to me.