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Stamp duty surcharge won’t hurt foreign buyer market - claim

A prominent London agency says today’s new two per cent stamp duty surcharge imposed on most overseas buyers will not dampen enthusiasm for investment.

Ludlowthompson makes the prediction after reporting that the number of overseas landlords owning property in the UK has hit a five-year high - despite Brexit, the pandemic and earlier tax changes. 

The firm says there’s been a 19 per cent rise in foreign landlords in the UK over the past five years since the EU Referendum, taking the current total to some 184,000.


Many were encouraged by years of favourable exchange rates when the Pound fell badly between 2016 and 2020. 

“Investments by overseas landlords into UK buy-to-let properties has ensured that there has been a steady stream of capital into that sector, which has kept the quality of rental stock far higher than would have been the case with these investors” says Stephen Ludlow, chairman at ludlowthompson.

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of Hong Kong buyers of UK property, which the agency says is set to rise following the launch of the new visa for Hong Kong British National Overseas passport holders.

The agency says another key attraction is education, noting that many overseas landlords who have purchased property have done so to provide accommodation for their children who were studying in the UK. 

Today’s surcharge applies to buyers of residential property in England and Northern Ireland who are not UK residents. It applies to existing and off-plan residential property, but not to land. 

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    With respect to Ludlow Thompson, if your most expensive instruction is £1.9m your buyers are not particularly stress testing the 15% SDLT levels that often, as such 2% is indeed unlikely to trouble your overseas investors. However if you're selling a £10.9m property, the effective rate of SDLT is already 14% and will now become 16% (£1,751,750).
    Whilst there will be few who shed a tear for the super rich, you have to ask what message are we trying to send by slapping another 2% tax on foreign investors, just as we leave the EU and adopt a more "global outlook".

    Algarve  Investor

    A world of difference between wanting to attract useful foreign investment and then the Buy to Leave brigade. Obviously not all super-rich overseas investors lock up and leave or sit on their empty investment property in London as it rockets in value, but I imagine a lot do.

    What use is that investment if it's tied up in a luxury property in Nine Elms or Mayfair, not being rented out, not being used as an Airbnb? The investor is contributing nothing to the local area or the local economy, either.

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    I’d say the initial £1,533,750 (as things currently stand) is a relatively positive contribution to the kitty...it is after all only 255 x the average income tax.


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