Brokers call for stamp duty changes in Spring Statement

Michael Lloyd

March 13, 2019

Ray Boulger of John Charcol and David Hollingworth of L&C Mortgages have both called for Chancellor Philip Hammond to raise the threshold for stamp duty in today’s Spring Statement.

However, with the government busy with Brexit, having a debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal yesterday and a debate on whether we should have a no deal Brexit today, both brokers didn’t expect much change in the statement.

Boulger (pictured), senior technical manager of John Charcol, said: “Everyone’s focused on Brexit and the Autumn Budget is the main policy event so I can’t see there being much coming out of the statement. I think stamp duty rates have gone up so far that it prevents people from moving.

“The government should have a broader look at how the stamp duty regime works with a view to increasing the band from when you start paying, up from properties worth £125,000 to £200,000, for everyone else, to help people that aren’t first-time buyers too.

“Housing transactions are still way below the levels of the mid-2000s. One would’ve thought that after the banking crisis they would’ve recovered but they haven’t.

“A major factor for this is stamp duty. Some first-time buyers not able to buy now would’ve been able to then. Stimulating first-time buyers would have a bigger effect on the overall number of transactions.

“Changing the threshold you start paying stamp duty at has a positive impact on activity in the market, encouraging more people to move and generating more tax and economic activity with estate agency fees and conveyancing fees too.

“I wouldn’t expect this to be happen but I think it’d be sensible.”

Hollingworth, associate director of communications at L&C Mortgages, agreed and said he expects very little and will be paying attention to both the Spring Statement announcements and Brexit debate.

He said: “This is meant to be a more of a statement of where things are, but nonetheless I’m sure people will be looking for any comfort and support of the market. People are hoping stamp duty will get some attention but that’s just hope.

“The issues around the upper end of the market is that it’s choking off higher value sales. Many will have support for change there but I’m not necessarily convinced we’ll get it anyway. I think first-time buyers have help with stamp duty and are holding up relatively well compared to other regions of the market.

“Stamp duty increasingly has been overhauled more than once in fairly rapid succession, whether for buy-to-let or first-time buyers and is an area the government is prepared to change and review. It’s the potential to remove another barrier for people when moving.”

Meanwhile David Copland, director of mortgages at TMA Club, praised Hammond’s help for first-time buyers in his last Autumn Budget but didn’t expect much from tomorrow’s statement.

Copland said: “In his Autumn Budget, the Chancellor made true on his promise to better support the property market, particularly first-time buyers, through the extension of the Help to Buy scheme until 2023 and a stamp duty exemption on shared ownership properties.

“However, more still needs to be done for ‘could-be buyers’ and these initiatives will require some out of the box thinking.

“The Chancellor’s shift away from the buy-to-let market was also a relief for many landlords last October, however this sector continues to feel like an uphill battle following previous stamp duty enforcements.

“Whilst I expect Hammond’s forecast to be a relatively low-key affair, it may well provide some guidance on where the property market is heading, paving the way for more innovative thinking later this year.”

Stuart Wilson, corporate marketing director at equity release lender more 2 life, said that he would want Hammond to look at how housing equity could be included within the Pensions Dashboard.

He added: “A case in point might be to look at how housing equity could be included within the Pensions Dashboard.  While there are obviously caveats around how this type of illiquid asset was represented, planting the seed in people’s minds that housing equity might help their retirement finances would help more people to enjoy the standard of retirement they aspire to.”

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