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SDLT Bonanza! Mortgage enquiries and property portal visits soar

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Sat 11 Jul 2020

SDLT Bonanza! Mortgage enquiries and property portal visits soar

News of the temporary suspension of SDLT for property transactions up to £500,000 caused a tsunami of comment; most of it positive but some with words of caution.

In the first half hour after the announcement traffic to Rightmove jumped by 22%.

Rightmove’s property expert Miles Shipside:

“This move will help to keep the nation and wider economy moving because keeping the current momentum going will help prevent destabilising falls in property prices as unemployment grows, and enable a quicker economic recovery. Lockdown prevented 175,000 would be sellers from coming to market so we hope this Stamp Duty holiday will provide the spur for those missing movers to come to market.

“They will find there’s currently record demand for their properties from prospective buyers, with Rightmove enquiries to agents now double what they were before lockdown. Home-movers will be grateful that the changes come into effect straight away so they don’t have to delay their plans, and what we could see now is people rushing to get a price agreed before some sellers put their prices up in the hope people will be able to pay more because of the tax savings.”

Figures from Rightmove


Vikki Bennett, spokesperson for property website OnTheMarket:

“The Chancellor’s bold move is bound to boost property transactions up and down the country. We welcome today’s step as a practical means of helping to sustain this post-lockdown bounceback and extend it for a longer period.

“As well as supporting first time buyers, and indeed buyers and vendors generally, these Stamp Duty savings will in turn generate revenue for all kinds of businesses who rely on a buoyant and fluid housing market.”

Nicola Thompson, a director from Leeds estate agent Adair Paxton:

“This stamp duty cut is very positive and welcome news for the housing market. It means the majority of buyers in Leeds will now pay no stamp duty at all. Although there is a limited supply of housing stock currently available for sale, these changes will undoubtedly help to boost confidence in the market and should encourage more home moves.”

Patrick McCutcheon, head of residential at Yorkshire estate agent Dacre, Son & Hartley:

“The property market has enjoyed good momentum since our return from lockdown at the end of May, with good activity across the majority of price sectors. But with looming job cuts and a clear and present risk to the economy the incentive of raising the threshold for paying stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000, is very welcome and should keep the present momentum rolling.”

Sarah Ryan, head of conveyancing at law firm Simpson Millar:

“We of course welcome the plans announced today to freeze the Stamp Duty costs on any property up to the value of £500k which will not only encourage potential buyers to move on and up the proverbial ladder, but will also help to retain jobs in the real estate sector. However, there is no denying that for some, in particular those individuals, couples and families who have managed to complete on the purchase of their home either during lockdown, or in the immediate aftermath, this will come as a bitter blow.

“This is most likely to affect those who have bought a new build property as many of those transactions could go ahead despite social distancing, as well as those who were all ready to finalise proceedings once the rules relaxed last month. We would urge the government to make the scheme retrospective so that those individuals can also benefit from the cost savings.”

Gary Bailey, managing director, Hope Capital:

“A nine-month increase in the Stamp Duty threshold is a welcome move which should kick-start the property market again after an extremely difficult Q2 for everyone. We’re also very pleased that the Chancellor gave such a clear statement, leaving no room for doubt that the increased threshold would come into force immediately.”

“But cuts to Stamp Duty don’t change the fundamentals for many people who struggle to save for a deposit. A contributing factor to this is the amount of rent they have to pay, which has increased in recent years as landlords have had to pass on the extra costs of acquiring the property, Stamp Duty, and other recent tax increases. A review of these, alongside a wholesale review of Stamp Duty, including buy-to-let and the second home surcharge, is long overdue.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders:

“Temporary cuts in Stamp Duty will boost the housing market and remove a black cloud that hangs over many second-time house hunters. I’m particularly pleased this is taking place with immediate effect, as we know that potential homeowners typically look for a new home in September.”

Dominic Agace, chief executive of Winkworth:

“90 per cent of homes will now be exempt from stamp duty, which is a tremendous fillip for first-time buyers and home movers nationwide. With the current pressures on where and how people work, the ability to be able to move home without punitive taxes is essential. The move should also benefit people whose homes fall outside the threshold, as it will create a more active pipeline of buyers in the market.”

Rob Houghton, CEO of reallymoving:

“This tax giveaway could have a significant impact on the market, particularly in more expensive locations such as London, where the majority of First Time Buyers have still been liable to pay stamp duty, and the South East. First Time Buyers fortunate enough to have secure jobs and large deposits stand to benefit the most, however, and many still face considerable challenges including an insecure jobs market and the withdrawal of higher loan to value mortgages. Those who are in a strong financial position and feel encouraged to commit will make a considerable saving which is far better invested in their first home, helping them to meet lender deposit requirements and increase their equity, than handed over to the Treasury.”

Jamie Cooke, managing director of iamsold:

“This is massively positive for the property sector. The market return since the easing of lockdown has been strong, and this is a good move from the Government to help to sustain the positive sentiment. As for auction, this could see a strong return of by-to-let investors who are perhaps sitting on cash reserves, although we assume the three per cent investor surcharge will remain.

“It could also see a further increase of stock to market as people who were waiting until next year to sell their home may now make the decision to do it sooner and benefit from the holiday. This should mean there’s more stock to equal the rising demand across the industry as a whole, however if there’s a flood of stock it could have an impact on house prices. The industries supporting the sector will also feel the benefits as additional cash will be available for homeowners to spend elsewhere on things like refurbishments, extensions and new furniture.”

Ross Counsell, chartered surveyor and director at Good Move:

“After a rocky few months for the UK housing market, this is a positive step forward and will provide a further boost to demand for housing. We believe current homeowners that have recently been hesitant to sell their properties due to the current climate will now be more inclined to put their properties on the market.

Jeremy Raj, Head of Residential Property at Irwin Mitchell:

“The changes announced to SDLT today went further than most within the industry had dared hope. With an immediate increase in the tax free band to £500,000 for a fixed period until 31 March 2021, there will be a real boost to the sector. There will also be widespread relief that the implementation has not been delayed until the autumn, which would potentially have stalled the market entirely.

Adam Forshaw, manging director of conveyancers O’Neill Patient:

“We’re thrilled with the Chancellor’s clear announcement on Stamp Duty – it’s a hugely positive move that will really get the property market moving. We are geared up for a burst in activity as homebuyers take advantage of this window of opportunity.

James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search:

“The expectation was that it would stay in place until January – its extension to March is great news and prevents a scramble to get transactions over the line. By March ’21 we would expect to see the market settled and ready to operate at more normal levels into the spring and summer of next year.

Nick Leeming, chairman, Jackson Stops:

““Sunak’s stamp duty reform has come at the right time and will have an immediate impact on the volume of sales agreed in the coming weeks. With nearly one fifth of UK adults considering a home move in the next 12 months, this stamp duty holiday unlocks great potential for the market.

“There is no denying that stamp duty has previously put buyers off entering the market; 41% of our clients believe there should be a wholesale reduction in stamp duty across all price brackets. Meanwhile, over a quarter wanted Government to abolish stamp duty on all homes under £500,000. As such, there should be a flurry of fresh buyers entering the market imminently, with the hope of completing their transactions before the tax break comes to an end. We hope Government carefully evaluates how this increased stamp duty threshold improves the housing market and wider economy and considers a wider reduction across all price brackets in the near future.”

Some put in words of caution:

Sean Randall, Partner, Blick Rothenberg:

“Today’s announcement was leaked widely, and it looks like the Chancellor gave in to pressure to launch the holiday now rather than in the autumn. It is headline-grabbing stuff and will please many, particularly in the north. But evidence from previous stamp duty holidays shows that it is unlikely to increase sales volumes and will merely bring them forward. The end of the holiday was expected to coincide with a significant fall in the market. That would have made the fall even greater. It is good, therefore, that the holiday is longer than expected at eight months. But even eight months will be too short unless there really is a “V” shaped recovery.

“The holiday means that most house purchases are now exempt from stamp duty, certainly based on the average home-mover and downsizer and those in the north of the country. Those moving in London and the south-east will benefit by up to £15,000 but are likely to have to pay some tax due to the significantly higher property values in these regions.

“Past experience shows us that sellers tend to benefit stamp duty holidays, enjoying on average almost half of the saving.

“Agents will be delighted. The combination of a stamp duty holiday and pressure on non-residents to complete before the two per cent surcharge kicks in next April will give those that were contemplating buying this year a real incentive to act. Those that are wary of a possible ten per cent fall in the market, prompted by the deepest global rescission since records began and rising unemployment, are unlikely to change their plans until confidence returns. The Chancellor has put a mask on the face of the housing market. The real story is what will the face look like when it is lifted. That depends on the success of the plan for jobs announced today.”

Anthony Codling, CEO of Twindig:

“It will be interesting to see if the stamp duty cut leads to a thriving UK Housing market and provides the confidence in buying selling moving that we need.  I hope I am wrong, but history suggests otherwise. We may be being encouraged to eat out to help out but we are certainly not being encouraged to move out. ”

Patrick Cannon, a taxation barrister:

“If anyone remembers Norman Lamont’s ‘stamp duty holiday’ for eight months in 1992, they’ll recall that he raised the stamp duty threshold from £30k to £250k to get the house market moving in a time of recession. Sound familiar? It had a negative impact, because vendors raised their asking prices by roughly the same amount as the tax saving. It therefore worked out as a subsidy to sellers, at the cost of the taxpayer. Also, when the holiday ended, prices fell to reflect the re-imposition of the tax. Buyers who had bought at the higher prices then got burned as values fell with some put in to negative equity.

“An FOI request to HM Treasury found that Mr Lamont’s holiday eventually forced a collapse in the number of transactions, and prices fell sharply. The announcement of this fall in house prices further discouraged potential buyers. The stamp duty holiday, which had been intended to bring forward a recovery in the housing market, ended up further undermining the confidence that was essential to recovery.

“When the government reintroduced stamp duty, the holiday had cost £400m. Shortly afterwards, the pound tumbled out of the exchange rate mechanism on Black Wednesday. My warning to Rishi is ‘tread carefully’, because a stamp duty change will not benefit first time buyers, and it could have repercussions for years to come.”