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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The seven-year itch
Both Coventry Building Society and Barclays Bank have announced the launch of some highly-competitive 7-year fixed rates.
These deals not only offer longer term security for borrowers, but have been priced to match the cost of some of the best 5-year fixed rates currently on the market.
Deciding how long to fix your mortgage for is not an easy decision, and for some, locking in to a deal for 10 years may seem too long. These new offerings will provide a useful alternative for homeowners.
The recent vote to leave the EU has resulted in a degree of uncertainty, and this combined with falling funding costs could mean that now is the perfect time for borrowers to grab some peace of mind for the medium to long term.
These deals do carry Early Repayment Charges throughout the fixed period, so it’s important to be mindful of any potential changes in circumstances over the next few years.
Fixing for this length of time will not suit everyone, but for some a seven year deal will provide peace of mind for the future, and being able to do so at record-low rates is an added bonus.
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