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Countrywide says London market stagnation not caused by stamp duty

Countrywide says the current malaise in the central London housing market is not, as many agents and commentators suggest, simply down to stamp duty.

Almost exactly a year ago Chancellor George Osborne announced his restructuring of stamp duty making almost all properties costing over £937,000 incur a higher level of stamp duty than before.

Since that time, and in particular since the summer, the high-value central London market has shown a reduction in transactions and some price falls, especially amongst the most expensive properties. This was obviously long before the surprise announcement of a stamp duty surcharge on second homes announced just last week by Osborne.


However, Countrywide’s research director, Johnny Morris, says: “The top end of the market would be just as bad if he hadn’t even touched stamp duty.”

Morris believes international jitters over China and other emerging economies have deterred the kind of British buyer who is able to afford a high-end London property, while foreign investors have been hit by the strong pound which has made the capital’s homes look over-priced. 

“Then there’s the natural cycle” he says. “Prices in prime central London in particular have had a strong run for many years - they were bound to fall back a little at some point.”

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    I agree with this.

    I made this point on this web-site yesterday, when I read the Chesterton's assertion that it was effectively the Stamp Duty changes that stalled the London Premium market.

    I didn't believe that; this report is more logical.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    Prices in London have gone out of control. Anything that can be done to control that is welcome. Stamp duty is far from the only solution, but it's a start. Unfortunately, Boris and his chums are always courting foreign investors to come and invest in the BEST CITY IN THE WORLD. For these investors, though, investment means one thing - buying up houses that they never actually have plans to live in.

    Prices in the capital won't be anywhere near affordable until the issue of empty homes, buy-to-let, Right to Buy and Buy to Leave is addressed. Believe it or not, you could afford to buy in London a few years ago without being a millionaire. I know. Crazy, right? Now you either need to be earning at least a six-figure salary or have a very rich mummy and daddy to buy a place for you. We need to get back to making London genuinely affordable - for both tenants and buyers - otherwise we risk the capital turning into the biggest tax-dodging haven in the world.

    What is the average price in London now? Over £500,000. Even in the suburbs, like Hillingdon and Harrow, prices are crazy. Based on what? The fact that they're near a Tube station. It's madness. Prices in London currently bear no relation to reality and it's going to take a long struggle to change that.

  • Anna  Dickson

    Surely London prices were bound to stabilise though, they couldn't continue at the same uncontrollable rate.

    But no doubt prices will increase further with the introduction of Crossrail and the Night Tube in the capital, making it even harder for first time buyers to get a foot on the ladder.

    I don't so far see a solution. All I see is unaffordable living spreading outwards at a rapid rate.


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