First-time buyer stamp duty cut 'having little immediate impact'

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The stamp duty cut for first-time buyers has shown little immediate sign of reinvigorating the housing market, surveyors have found.

The December survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said 86% of surveyors reported no increase in first-time buyer inquiries following the changes.

Rics said that while this could be in part due to the time of year, it also gauged opinions on the likely impact over the coming months.

Two-thirds (66%) anticipated the stamp duty cut would have little consequence, although 12% did think it would result in higher overall activity.

In November, it was announced that first-time buyers paying £300,000 or less for a home would pay no stamp duty, affecting those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Rics said the fresh supply of new homes coming to market has been in decline for nearly two years - with December seeing a 23-month run in which there has been no positive reading.

Average property stock levels on estate agents' books are close to all-time lows, it said.

Rics found a "lack of conviction" surrounding the near-term outlook for house prices, with surveyors in London feeling the most negative, and the most upbeat results coming from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The strongest survey results for current price growth were in Wales, Northern Ireland, North West England and the Midlands.

Rics said Scotland, Northern Ireland and North East England were the only regions to see a recent pick-up in sales, while sales remained steady or fell across the rest of the UK.

Sales expectations nationally remain flat over the coming three months, but surveyors are more optimistic about the year to come with activity anticipated to pick up across all regions and nations in the next 12 months.

Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: "The initial feedback from the market doesn't suggest that the change in the stamp duty regime announced in the Budget 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."

A Treasury spokeswoman said: "We want to restore the dream of homeownership for a new generation.

"Over the next five years, our stamp duty cut will help over a million first-time buyers getting onto the housing ladder, with an estimated 16,000 first-time buyer purchases alone since the changes took effect in November."


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