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Stamp duty reform can win over voters, says UK's largest independent

The boss of the UK's largest independent agency has called on the government to be 'radical' and consider a range of initiatives to overhaul the housing market.

Paul Smith, chief executive of haart, says first-time buyers should be given a ‘stamp duty holiday’ and incentives should be introduced for people looking to downsize.

He says these policies would increase 'fluidity' in the market and free up more property stock.

"Clearly there will be an impact on tax take – but new home owners spend lavishly on white goods, carpets and other services which all carry a 20% VAT,” says Smith.

haart reports that house prices and transactions have stagnated since the announcement of a snap General Election last month.

"Thankfully this time round the run up period is short, and soon the property market can jump off this latest political rollercoaster and resume activity again," says Smith. 

He adds that the result of the General Election should provide a 'clearer vision' on Brexit and allow a new government to focus on pressing issues such as home ownership.

Separately, high-profile London agent Trevor Abrahamson, managing director of Glentree Estates, has suggested how high-end buyers can minimise stamp duty costs.

Abrahamson says former Chancellor George Osborne's decision to hike stamp duty rates for properties sold for over £900,000 has caused a 'DIY recession' in the London market.

He estimates that the turnover of sales is down by 70% and average values are down by approximately 25% when compared to the highs experienced before the stamp duty overhaul in 2014.

Abrahamson's five suggestions for minimising stamp duty are: buying shares in the owning company rather than the asset itself, buying land that could be developed into a home instead of an existing one, buying a new home in an existing development and asking the vendor to share stamp duty costs.

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