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Stamp Duty reform tops General Election property wish-lists

Stamp Duty reform and more housebuilding top the General Election wish-lists for the property sector.

General Election manifestos are yet to be printed but industry groups are already putting forward their priorities ahead of the 4 July vote.

Rightmove asked agents, landlords, homeowners and renters what they would like to see

The main concerns were Stamp Duty and undersupply of housing.

Data from Rightmove shows that in London, only 4% of homes for sale are exempt from the current Stamp Duty charges for all buyers, compared with 71% in the North East.

Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister said: “At the very least, the next Government should make the current changes to first-time buyer stamp duty charges in England permanent, as the higher thresholds introduced in 2022 are due to expire next year. 

“But there’s also a bigger opportunity to reform stamp duty to encourage more movement up and down the property ladder. With such regional variations in property prices, increasing stamp duty thresholds in line with these regional variations would seem a logical first step for stamp duty reform.”

This has been echoed by UK Finance, which has suggested increasing Stamp Duty bands annually in line with the UK House Price Index.

Rightmove’s research also highlighted a need to build more homes.

Bannister added: “One way that could help to accelerate house-building is to streamline the planning process, which is highly complex and challenging. If the Government can create smoother processes, working closely with all key stakeholders, it could transform the delivery of new homes and produce more affordable housing. Not only could this help first-time buyers, it could also open up a big opportunity to help downsizers move to greener homes with lower running costs.”

There were also calls for mortgage lenders to review affordability criteria.

Rightmove’s mortgages expert Matt Smith added: “There’s an opportunity to unlock greater affordability in a responsible way, which could help more first-time buyers get on the ladder. First-time buyers are already taking out longer mortgage terms and lender innovation has included the introduction of longer-term fixed rates that are likely to be part of the solution as they help by ensuring certainty of payments.

“Various mortgage schemes have played their part and supported a number of people, and we know from our study that people would like to see new schemes introduced, but we think longer-term solutions would be more effective than short-term schemes. Either way, it’s most likely that regulatory change is needed, so it's critical that the government works with regulators and lenders from day one on any mortgage solutions, to ensure buy-in and take up, which will in turn create more options for first-time buyers.”

Another request in the Rightmove research is for the Government to help speed up the home buying and selling process.

Rightmove’s legal expert David Cox says: “It’s vital that the next government works closely with the property industry to come up with standardised solutions to help speed up the home-moving process, to benefit both home-movers and agents. 

“Digitisation is key, and there has been innovation in this space, but it also needs a solid focus from the next government. A well-developed and adopted solution has the potential to not only accelerate the home-buying process, but also encourages a less stressful, better understood and more seamless transaction for home-movers.”

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