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Stamp duty holiday won't be extended - RJA Properties: Lettings Agent Manchester
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20 May 2010

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Home information packs (Hips) will be consigned to history, the Government has announced.
17 Mar 2010

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Estate agents should be subject to the same levels of regulation as letting agents, it has been been stated.
22 Jan 2010

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Thousands of Britons with holiday and retirement homes in northern Cyprus face eviction after the Court of Appeal upheld a decision that a British couple must surrender disputed land.

Stamp duty holiday won't be extended


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Pre-budget report announcement means that from 1 Jan 2010 the stamp duty threshold will revert back to £125,000.

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First-time buyers were dealt a blow in today's pre-budget report when the chancellor, Alistair Darling, announced that the current stamp duty holiday would not be extended beyond the end of the year.

Currently, anyone buying a property for £175,000 or less avoids paying the 1% tax, saving them up to £1,750. This threshold has been in place since September 2008 when the chancellor temporarily increased it from £125,000 to £175,000.

Since the stamp duty holiday was introduced an estimated 132,500 house purchase mortgage transactions have escaped paying the tax, according to research released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders last month. This accounts for more than a quarter of the 486,400 house purchase loans in the period.

Estate agents and others involved in the property market had hoped the stamp duty holiday would be extended beyond its end date of 31 December.

Nici Audhlam-Gardiner, director of mortgages at Abbey and Alliance & Leicester, said: "This is disappointing news not only for first-time buyers looking to take their first step on to the property ladder, but also for the wider housing market.

"First-time buyers are the lifeline of the housing market and it's a shame to see this support come to an end at a time when the wider housing market is still in recovery."

The government's tax take from stamp duty in the current tax year is expected to be around half of its 2007-08 level, according to notes in the pre-budget report. However, it also says the decline in stamp duty in 2009-10 is less than that assumed in the budget forecast in April, reflecting the stabilisation in the housing market.

"House prices have recorded monthly rises, while property transactions have rebounded more strongly than assumed in the budget, although they remain historically low," the report said.

Some commentators said today that they believed the end of the stamp duty holiday could put the brakes on the property market. Rosemary Rogers, director of property website reallymoving.com, said: "With no incentive to buy and the difficulties in securing mortgage finance, the end of this holiday could well see the housing market stagnate in the new year, as first-time buyers are unable to raise the funds to get on to the property ladder."

The National Association of Estate Agents was also unimpressed by the chancellor's reluctance to make changes to the system, claiming that stamp duty "unfairly distorts the property market".

Chief executive, Peter Bolton King, said: "It is prohibitive to people looking for a step up the housing market and unfairly penalises people investing in buy-to-let portfolios."

David Hollingworth of mortgage brokers London & Country said he had seen evidence of people looking to get on to the property ladder before the exemption ends. "I don't think stamp duty stops people buying full-stop," he said. "But as we have seen property prices edging up in some areas there are people who have decided to get in now, while the stamp duty holiday lasts, rather than wait."

He added that people who had not already put in an offer on a property would almost certainly have left it too late to benefit from the remainder of the stamp duty holiday.

While first-time buyers might have missed the boat, existing homeowners who are struggling financially were given some welcome news in the pre-budget report.

The standard interest rate used to calculate the support for mortgage interest scheme, which helps homeowners who have experienced a fall in income to stay in their homes, will be maintained at the current 6.08% for a further six months. This will benefit around 220,000 homeowners, the chancellor said.

Once the freeze ends the chancellor said the government "intends to move towards a fairer, more affordable approach, that more closely reflects mortgage interest rates."

The Guardian

 
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