Boost for housing market as stamp duty holiday introduced

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has introduced a stamp duty holiday for property buyers in England and Northern Ireland. No stamp duty will be payable on the first £500,000 of the purchase price of a property from midnight last night until 31 March 2021.

While previous stamp duty tax breaks have been primarily aimed at first-time buyers, this will apply to all buyers, including those moving up the ladder who have owned property before, those purchasing investment properties, second homes or via a limited company. However, those purchasers who already own a property will still have to pay the 3 per cent surcharge on the entire purchase price.

It means that those buying a property for more than £500,000 will save £15,000 on their stamp duty bill, which is not to be sniffed at. The average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500, while the Chancellor stated that nearly 9 out of 10 of people would pay no stamp duty at all. The other bit of good news is that the stamp duty holiday will be introduced from tonight, rather than in the autumn as had been previously suggested. That would have led to a slowdown in a market which is only just getting going again after lockdown, with buyers likely to sit on their hands until the measure was introduced. Hopefully, its introduction now will give a boost to the housing market and mean a busy few weeks, and indeed months – lie ahead.

What we would like to see at PLG is more estate agents coming off furlough to deal with the significant demand, which is already there, and only likely to increase in the near future. Too often in the past few weeks we have struggled to access and view property on behalf of our clients because the agents can’t resource the demand. Many agents have been operating on a skeleton staff until it becomes apparent whether the current flurry of housing market activity is just a flash in the pan in response to lockdown restrictions easing or is more sustained, so they are understaffed when it comes to handling viewings.

Could this be the news they’ve been hoping for?

Take the example of one client who has been trying to sell his own home and had heard very little from his estate agent, with no viewings. A neighbour knocked on his door to say that she was interested in buying the property and had been trying to book a viewing for the past week but the agent had not answered her calls. They arranged a viewing there and then, and have since made an offer, which has been accepted.

James, our Lettings and Sales Manager, has faced similar frustrations when it comes to dealing with agents and accessing property. PLG’s clients are needs-based with urgent deadlines and in one Surrey town James was reduced to pounding the streets, knocking on doors of various estate agency offices given the lack of response or contact with the local agents. It almost feels like the property market has not been helping itself and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you don’t unfurlough your staff, get them into your branches and out and about doing viewings, the market won’t pick up and you won’t sell the homes you need to for your business to thrive.

In summary, we welcome the Chancellor’s announcement and hope it will encourage estate agents to unfurlough staff and get back to business on full throttle to deal with the increase in enquiries which will hopefully come. A fully-functioning market that is truly open for business is the best-case scenario for anyone working in the industry and indeed for our clients who are in desperate need to buy or rent property.


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