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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Will stamp duty reform be announced on November 6?

November 6 has been declared Budget Day - at least if there is a Brexit deal agreed in principle in the next week.

If no deal is agreed or there is a further delay in the Brexit process, it is thought likely that the Budget will be pushed back several weeks until at least early December.

Should it go ahead on November 6 it is thought likely that Chancellor Sajid Javid will announce some kind of reform to stamp duty.

During his campaign to become Tory leader and Prime Minister in the early summer, Boris Johnson proposed increasing the threshold of Stamp Duty for residential properties from £125,000 to £500,000 and lowering the top rate from 12 per cent to seven per cent. 

Speculation over those and other possible changes were then fuelled by new Housing Secretary of State Robert Jenrick who told a radio interview that people would have to “wait and see” if there was stamp duty reform in the near future. 

Chancellor Javid then added to the speculation by hinting to a newspaper that the burden of duty could switch from buyer to seller - a suggestion he reversed within days.

Cumulatively, this kind of vague speculation by politicians has been blamed for adding to uncertainty in the housing market and reduced transactions volumes in recent weeks as buyers and sellers awaited an announcement.

Meanwhile yesterday’s Queen’s Speech - which set out no fewer than 26 wide-ranging measures widely seen as impossible to achieve given the government’s minority position in the House of Commons - largely ignored the subject of housing.

“It really is quite astonishing that despite the consistent doom and gloom that has surrounded the UK property market for some time now, yet another blind eye has been turned to the issues plaguing our property market” says Marc von Grundherr, director of London agency Benham and Reeves.

“The government’s monumental failure to build enough homes has resulted in a national housing crisis and this isn’t something we can shy away from and hope it goes away. While previous initiatives have stoked the fires of buyer demand and caused an even greater thirst for property, the actual delivery of housing stock to meet this demand has been woeful and perhaps this latest neglect of the issue is the government admitting defeat?”

The only mention of a housing-related issue was buried in a pledge to introduce building safety standards legislation.

In response to this Mark Harward, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, says: “We are very supportive of the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman. The irony of buying a shiny brand new home and finding yourself dealing with a number of snagging issues, with no easy path of redress, is not lost on consumers. There should be a statutory requirement to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman and the remit should be UK wide. Property developers should be charged per unit, ensuring that the access is free for customers.”

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