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Stamp duty uncertainty could bring market ‘to a grinding halt’ says online boss

Speculation surrounding whether Boris Johnson will honour his pledge to reduce stamp duty risks bringing the housing market “to a grinding halt” warns the head of an online estate agency.

The chief executive of HouseSimple, Sam Mitchell, says of the rumour: “It might help first-time buyers or those moving up the chain but it runs the risk of bringing the property ladder to a grinding halt as those at the top end of the ladder will be deterred from ever downsizing to free up larger homes.”

Johnson made a number of broad pledges during his Conservative leadership campaign about the need to reform SDLT, but whilst he has made a number of spending and other commitments since taking office he has so far remained silent on stamp duty.


Mitchell continues: “Whatever is decided, the most important thing for policy makers is to provide clarity to the market as quickly as possible. With uncertainty about Brexit and policy changes expected to increase in the months to come, smart sellers should look to take advantage of the relative calm of the summer to get their moves over the line.”

His comments come as his agency’s regular snapshot of the housing market in 100 major towns and cities across the UK show that the number of new property listings fell by 3.3 per cent in July.

However, HouseSimple claims the summer slowdown between June and July was gentler this year with that 3.3 per cent drop than in 2018, when it was 5.9 per cent down. 

With 59,710 new property listings coming to market, July 2019 was the third best month for listings this year after May and June, an indication that underlying momentum within the market remained strong. 

As ever, these national figures show substantial regional variations.

The East Midlands had a 1.5 per cent rise in new property listings; there was also marginal growth in Yorkshire and the West Midlands in July.

Meanwhile the greatest fall in supply was in Wales, down a full 7.1 per cent, where Swansea, Cardiff and Newport all saw chunky reductions in the number of new homes to the market.

The North East experienced a 6.9 per cent fall in new property listings in July, fuelled by big reductions in Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne.

London house sellers also felt the heat with new supply down 3.8 per cent in the capital from June to July; the worst borough was Bexley, down 15.7 per cent.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    I am not sure that a firm decision either way will help, in fact adding stamp duty burden to the buyer will make for more expensive property ticket prices.

    I really hope that Boris has a better time dreaming up a Brexit plan as moving the stamp duty burden just raises selling prices for all, and squeezes the first time buyer at the bottom who has no property to add the stamp to.

    What do I mean? Mr Vendor you now have to cover stamp duty cost on the sale of your property as Boris feels this will stimulate the property market.

    What you want to increase your asking/ selling price by an amount to cover this proposition?

    Excellent news, that will stimulate the property market by increasing the sale price of your 500k instruction to 515k overnight.

    Also, it will help all of those nice national homebuilders who offer to pay the stamp duty as a deal sweetener already, they would need to offer a further incentive to stay ahead of the curve, which of course would be absorbed in even higher selling prices, brilliant Boris ideas, sounds like a real stimulus to the industry, ever thought about asking estate agents for their views? Maybe if a housing minister was in post for more than 5 minutes - that would be a start.

    Soon be Halloween and things will all be … a dark, scary nightmare and I am not describing - autumn's seasonal celebration.


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