The Chancellor has announced that stamp duty is to be abolished for all first time buyers on properties bought up to £300,000, effective from today. In addition, first time buyers purchasing properties up to £500,000 will pay no stamp duty on the first £300,000.
In his Budget, Philip Hammond announced that 80% of first time buyers would pay no stamp duty at all. With 358,000 first time buyers in the last year, this means that at least 24% of all sales in the UK’s housing market are set to be charged 0% tax. Once other exempt sales under £125,000 are taken into account, this figure will be even higher.
Two thirds of properties bought so far this year across the country have been under the new threshold but there are large regional variations. In Wales and the North East, over 90% of sales in the last year have been over £300,000 while just 17% of sales in London were for less than £300,000.
While good news for first-time buyers, this will further squeeze investors in the sub-£500,000 market who are already suffering from increased taxes. What's more, it does not, give any encouragement to owners higher up the chain to downsize.
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ECONOMIC NEWS FOR NOVEMBER 2015
At the beginning of November, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted by eight to one to maintain interest rates at 0.5 per cent. The Bank also signalled that a hike in interest rates has now slipped back until at least the latter months of 2016. At the same time, the Bank produced its quarterly inflation report in which its inflation and growth forecasts were cut.
In the wake of that, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the UK’s inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, remained at minus 0.1 per cent in October, which marks the first time that it has fallen on an annual basis for two months in a row since it was created in 1997. The Retail Prices Index, which includes housing costs, fell to 0.7 per cent from 0.8 per cent in September and is the lowest RPI rate since November 2009.
At the end of the month, the ONS confirmed that the UK economy grew by 0.5 per cent between July and September. Although this was a drop from the 0.7 per cent increase experienced in the preceding quarter, it still marked the eleventh consecutive quarter of growth. The slowdown is largely blamed on a widening trade gap and a contraction in construction output of 2.2 per cent.
November closed with The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, which announced that buy-to-let landlords and people buying second homes will have to pay a 3 per cent surcharge on each stamp duty band from April 2016. The Statement also included an extended Help to Buy scheme in London, which will see buyers who can find a five per cent deposit given a loan worth up to 40 per cent of the property; elsewhere the existing maximum loan is for 20 per cent of the property’s value.
The Statement also reported that the Government is putting £6.9 billion into housing, which includes an extra £2.3 billion in loans for the Government Starter Homes programme and £4 billion lent to housing associations and local authorities to build more homes for shared ownership. The Government also announced a pilot scheme to trial the Government’s Right-to-Buy programme for housing association tenants.
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