Estate agents have spent the weekend finalising their wish-list and lobbying MPs and government ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Statement.
Top of the list is stamp duty reform - reform of both the additional homes three per cent stamp duty surcharge introduced this year, and the increase in stamp duty for most homes selling above £937,000 introduced in late 2014 and now being blamed for the downturn in the prime central London market.
“In the first year of the new taxes, they have cost the Treasury £370m and the second year will be bigger still. But that is the tip of the iceberg, as there is no easy way of calculating the impact on the businesses that surround property” warns Paul Empson of high-end estate agency Haringtons UK.
Strutt & Parker last week announced a small number of redundancies in central London as a result of the market downturn, and another agency - Hanover Private Office - says enough is enough and now high-end stamp duty must be cut.
“A cut in stamp duty above £1.5m is a must. There’s a bottle neck in the market stopping people moving house. It is not good for tax receipts nor for the movement of the labour force around the UK” says Hanover’s Alex Newall.
“Since the new [stamp duty surcharge on additional homes] was introduced in April it has proven to be unreasonable, particularly for people wishing to save money. Banks are not offering great interest rates so people have been looking to invest their money elsewhere, but the surcharge is making this much more difficult” according to Spencer Botchin, director at prime London agency Sandfords.
Jeff Doble, chief executive of Dexters - which has over 60 offices in London, including 28 in high-value central London - says the Autumn Statement is an opportunity to stop stamp duty being a disincentive for those families wishing to move into London.
“This [duty] has not only hit tax revenues but also had a major impact on related industries, from construction, to furnishings and all services related to buying a home” he says.