HMRC says there has been a five per cent drop on the number of transactions attracting stamp duty in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period of 2016.
That in itself may not be a surprise - a year ago the first quarter of 2016 was marked by a surge in buy to let purchases to beat the stamp duty surcharge introduced on April 1.
However, the estimated receipts for stamp duty in Q1 2017 is £1,995m from residential transactions - that’s 16 per cent higher than the previous year, despite the dip in sales.
The number of transactions valued between £250,000 and £500,000 fell by 10 per cent in that period but the number of ‘high stamp duty’ transactions in the first three months of this year, for homes priced £500,000 and above, collapsed by an even larger 14 per cent to 22,600 - the lowest quarterly figure for two years.
“The statistics make it clear that the upper-end of the market has unfairly borne the brunt of ... tax reform. A healthy property market needs movement and fluidity at all levels and across all tenures, but it appears that the changes have unfairly targeted the upper-end of the market which does little to help the cause of first-time buyers" insists Shaun Church, director of the mortgage broker Private Finance.
“The government’s strategy of raking in yet more money from SDLT is working well for them but the result is a near failure for the health of the market. The liquidity of homes in London has slowed to a worrying level and with a snap election just weeks away, the normally busy spring market is bound to suffer further uncertainty” according to Matt Robinson, chief executive at the Nested agency.