Industry expects ‘damp squib’ from Brown

Ramesh Sharma

March 18, 2006

This is despite the majority of the industry calling for the threshold on Stamp Duty to be raised to allow more people to avoid paying the tax.

Currently, home-buyers start paying Stamp Duty on properties over £120,000 and with the average first-time buyer (FTB) paying nearly £150,000, it is seen as a major stumbling block to getting on the housing market.

Mike Fry, director of Halton Insurance Services, said: “The current level of stamp duty is not realistic and the government has got to do something to help FTBs. Their situation is getting worse as they are being forced to pay increasing rent payments as landlords force their prices up to cope with paying more for their properties.”

Simon Chalk, mortgage planner at Mortgage Portfolio Services, felt the thresholds need to be raised. He said: “I don’t think much will happen but if it does, the threshold will only be raised to £130,000 and £275,000.”

Mark Sismey-Durrant, chief executive of Heritable Bank, believed more radical changes were necessary. “The raising of the threshold had little impact last time so I’d like to see regionalised bands as this would better reflect different areas of the country.”

However, despite widespread agreement that something needs to be done regarding stamp duty, most people argued the budget will bring nothing of relevance to the mortgage industry.

Tony Catt, an IFA, said: “There may be some vague promises to help FTBs. Home Information Packs (HIPs) and Stamp Duty may also get a look in but I don’t think Gordon Brown will do anything and the whole event will end up being a bit of a damp squib for the housing market.”

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