There’s been shock and anger from agents - especially those in London - at the surprise news of an additional three per cent stamp duty on buy to let and second homes.
George Osborne made the surprise announcement in his Autumn Statement, alongside a pledge to encourage a vast house-building programme and to extend the Help To Buy programme by a year to 2021.
Some £1 billion which he believes the new stamp duty will raise by 2021 will fund some of the new homes, Osborne says. Up to £60m will go to communities in England where the Treasury says the impact of high numbers of second homes has been "particularly acute".
“This is penalising London workers who have a pied-a-terre from Monday to Thursday throughout the week and return to the family home during the weekend” says Faisail Durrani, head of research at Cluttons.
“This additional SDLT will hit confidence in the London market, at a time when emerging market currencies are under tremendous pressure due to the faltering of global economic growth. It’s a double whammy for international buyers because taxes will increase and weaker currencies mean UK investment properties are more expensive” he says.
Lucian Cook, head of research at Savills, says this is merely the latest tax burden to fall disproportionately on London buyers and investment landlords.
”This will further suppress transactions and prices in the prime central London market, given the extent to which this market has been supported by purchases from second home owners and investor buyers. More generally, buy to let investors are likely to display greater caution faced with higher transaction costs. This is likely to be greatest among those with substantial debt who are also affected by the changes to tax relief that were announced in the July budget” he says.
“The increase in stamp duty, while good for first time buyers, could have quite a negative impact on buy to let investors and subsequently the rental market. This may ultimately lead to a shortage of good quality properties or an increase in rent, which could make it much more difficult for tenants” says Jamie Lester of Haus Properties, a three-office south west London estate agency.
“This is short-sighted by the government as they have failed to address the slowdown at the top-end of the market ... The Chancellor could have put new, fairer stamp duty levels in place as so many London family homes, even in secondary areas, breach the £1.5m+ barrier” suggests Robin Paterson, chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty UK.
Jonathan Adams, director of another prime central London agency, Napier Watt, says: “Buy to let mortgage holders will potentially have to pay up to 15 per cent stamp duty on future purchases and lose out on mortgage interest tax relief. The result? Fewer landlords will come into the market, there will be a lack of supply and rents will rise. The other issue is that because the stamp duty hike won’t come in until April, we could see a rush of landlords buying before then, further pushing up prices in the short term.”