Stamp duty changes ‘aren’t putting buyers off’

Moving boxesThe three per cent hike in stamp duty land tax (SDLT) brought into force earlier this year hasn’t put people off buying a second home.

Michael Foxford, partner and residential property law expert at Birchall Blackburn Law, said the government’s changes haven’t stopped people buying additional properties, either as a second residential home or a buy-to-let property, despite a rush to complete transactions ahead of April 1.

But, he warned of the risk to first-time buyers if affordable properties continue to be bought by buy-to-let investors, rather than being available to those making their way on to the property ladder.

Michael’s comments follow the release of data from HMRC showing the numbers of property transactions liable for stamp duty in the second quarter of 2016 was 10 per cent higher than the same period in 2015.

For those under £250,000 the amount liable increased by eight per cent and those between £250,000 and £500,000 rose 12 per cent.

And, for those over £500,000 there was an 18 per cent increase than the second quarter of 2015.

Michael explained: “More than three months on since this change was implemented, these latest figures show us that despite the hike in stamp duty tax people haven’t been put off buying a second or third property. We have seen an increase in completions each month and despite the sense that there is some uncertainty, on the whole the housing market remains strong.

“While time will really tell if this surcharge is helping or hindering the market, right now it doesn’t look to have scared people off, but in some areas competition for the more affordable properties has increased as houses below £250,000 are the preference for buy-to-let landlords – more work needs to be done to ensure first time buyers aren’t being squeezed out.”