The industry has reacted angrily to the Chancellor declining to change stamp duty despite pleas from agents and suppliers ahead of the Autumn Statement.
Anthony Hesse, managing director of Property Personnel, says slashing duty would have been Hammond’s most effective ‘fix’ for the country’s finances.
“There is no more economically stimulating activity than house sales and purchases - so it would have been a tax cut that would largely have paid for itself. As a result, the continued stifling of the market is a missed opportunity for both the estate agency sector and the country.”
He says this would have been a boost for agents and all other aspects of the industry.
“There are dozens of related professions that start to do well when estate agency is flourishing. Surveyors, removal companies, solicitors, builders, plumbers, electricians, kitchen fitters and decorators all benefit from more property transactions and all provide an increased tax take for the Treasury” he says.
Rory O’Neill, head of residential at Carter Jonas, says current inactivity in London’s high-end market can be traced back directly to the SDLT reforms of November 2014.
“Stamp duty is the only negative stalling the market - even the attractiveness of the pound to dollar based buyers, affordable borrowing and pent up demand cannot overcome the crippling transactional costs of moving house” he said, promising he would lobby for it ahead of Phillip Hammond’s Spring 2017 financial statement.
Craig Vile, director at automated valuation service ValPal - a product from Angels Media, publisher of Estate Agent Today - says Phillip Hammond’s announcement lacked the bold measures required to stimulate the market.
“Disproportionate stamp duty taxes at the upper end of the market over the last two years have done more damage than anything else in restricting transactions, including Brexit” he claims.
“We need to see policies in place to enable and increase a free flow of transactions from the top end of the market to the bottom. We would call for reduced stamp duty across the board particularly on second homes and more help for residential developers” says Vile, who fears a risk of a fall-off in transactions next year without a stamp duty boost.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says: “”It isn’t just about rich people. Punitive stamp duty charges higher up the chain stalls the overall market - and prevents people moving up and down. It is questionable whether higher stamp duty has really worked as the take at the top end has certainly fallen.”