How Will The Stamp Duty Reforms Affect You?
For all those not yet on the property ladder, that first step has become an aspiration so out of reach it appears silly to even try and save for a deposit. The price seems to have been increasing faster than you can get to the next stop down the train line. Even if you have managed to make that first step – or leap as it should be called – chances are you have very low equity in your home.
So, what of the stamp duty reforms George Osborne outlined in this year’s autumn statement?
Well on the face of it, it seems as though it might have done some good. Anyone buying a property that is less than or equal to the sum of £937,500 will be paying less or the same as they were under the previous ‘slab’ system, with the effective tax rate for the average house in the UK being less than half of what it was.
The Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) has, in fact, adopted the same sort of incremental application that we see with our income tax. Instead of a blanket rate being applied to a property’s value in its entirety, the new tax rate means that it is only the proportion of the value in excess of the thresholds that is subject to the higher rate.
The new system represents a significant increase in the price paid for high-end properties with the percentage increase in SDLT being exponential – where the higher the price of the property, the higher the tax bill as a percentage of the sale. Given that the rates did not come into effect until midnight after the statement, there was, as you might expect, a rush in high-end property sales. The fall in Foxton’s share price is set to be echoed in the house prices of high-end houses however, with demand and prices expected to decrease for properties over £937,500.
But what are the long-term implications for houses under £937,500?
Critics of the SDLT reforms cite the fact that whilst it might help first-time buyers initially, the changes will ultimately result in further house price inflation and thus, they will be no better off in the long-term. Instead, it is small buy-to-let property investors who are likely to reap the rewards as “smaller properties in zone three” and “property in secondary locations” will see the biggest increase in net returns. It is existing homeowners, moreover, who stand to be the main beneficiaries of these changes.
Emran Mian, whilst speaking to The Guardian, highlighted that “it could be an odd dynamic – London house prices at the top of the market fall, everything else rises, hitting affordability for the average buyer”. To continue, Emran Mian’s comments are also relevant for properties outside of London as well. Houses that were stuck below £250,000 to avoid going into the next tax band are now able to increase without incurring a significantly higher tax bill.
The Telegraph, alongside many other publications, have reported that the winners are property buyers and the losers are those operating in the upper echelons of society.
But is that really the case?
I, for one, am not convinced. After all, dollar-rich Middle Easterners, Russians and West Africans along with a strong Chinese yuan has meant that the demand for prime central London property remains strong.
What’s more, stamp duty savings look likely to be dwarfed by house price inflation and consequently, first-time buyers will find it even more difficult to climb on to that first step of the property ladder.
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