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Stamp duty change hasn't boosted first time buyer demand - RICS

An overwhelming 86 per cent of RICS members questioned in a survey claim they have seen no increase in interest from first time buyers, despite the scrapping of stamp duty on their purchases announced by the government. 

In the latest monthly market snapshot from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors - looking at December - demand from buyers continued to fall. 

After new buyer enquiries came close to stabilising in November, 15 per cent more respondents noted a decline in demand (as opposed to an increase) in the month of December. Furthermore, when RICS members were asked whether they have seen an increase in first time buyer enquiries following changes to stamp duty in the Budget, an overwhelming majority of 86 per cent across the UK said they hadn’t. 

Respondents were also asked to consider the likely impact on the market over the coming months. Nationally, the majority of respondents - 66 per cent - anticipated the change having little consequence, whilst only 12 per cent felt it would result in higher overall activity. 

In London, however, 48 per cent envisaged not much response but a higher proportion of respondents compared to the national figure did say the changes would increase overall market activity. 

In the market as a whole, agreed transactions also fell with 13 per cent more respondents reporting a decline in volumes over the month. 

Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North East region were the only areas to suggest stronger transactions, whereas sales trends were either flat or negative across the rest of the UK. 

Sales expectations nationally remain flat over the coming three months, but  respondents are more optimistic over the year to come with activity anticipated to pick-up across all regions and UK countries over the next year.

Looking at supply, new instructions continued to decline nationally, extending a run of 23 months. 

Comments from respondents continue to emphasise the adverse impact this is having on the market. However, 23 per cent of contributors noted that appraisals were higher this December than last. 

“Initial feedback from the market doesn’t suggest that the change in the stamp duty regime is going to have a material impact on activity. Indeed, the risk was always that a good portion of the benefit would be capitalised in the price, therefore limiting the benefit for the first-time buyer” says Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist.

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