Buy to Let

Will the Chancellor reform stamp duty in his Budget next week?

Will the Chancellor reform stamp duty in his Budget next week?
Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

The UK's biggest property website has called for a change to stamp duty to help people move home.

Rightmove said that only 4% of London homes are currently exempt from the tax. This compares to 71% in the North East.

This highlights the disproportionate effect of stamp duty in some regions of England compared with others, due to every area having the same zero-tax charge for homes up to £250,000 for all movers, and £425,000 for first-time buyers.

Less than a third (28%) of London properties are currently exempt from stamp duty for first-time buyers, compared to nine in 10 (91%) in the North East.

Because of this discrepancy, Rightmove is calling for reform of stamp duty to consider regional property price variations in the Budget.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert, said: “Stamp duty is a big barrier to moving, with some who would potentially consider a move likely put off by the hefty stamp duty tax in addition to other moving costs.

“With such regional variations in property prices, increasing stamp duty thresholds in line with these regional variations would seem a logical first step for stamp duty reform. Whilst longer-term supply measures are also needed, this could be one way to help first-time buyers trying to get onto the ladder in more expensive parts of England.”

Low-deposit mortgages

Rightmove also wants to see a mortgage scheme in the Budget that goes further than the rumoured 99% mortgage. It says that affordability constraints mean only around 5% of all mortgages taken out are currently 95%-or-higher products.

Matt Smith, Rightmove’s mortgage expert, said: “The proposal for a 99% mortgage product will offer further support for those with smaller deposits, but it doesn’t address the issue of being able to pass an affordability stress test at 8%-plus whilst also being inside the four-and-a-half times loan to income (LTI) ratio.

“Whilst we support new solutions to help more first-time buyers, the 99% LTV mortgage alone is only likely to support a relatively small group. More needs to be done to strike the right balance between supporting a bigger group of future first-time buyers, whilst maintaining robust affordability assessments.”

Green incentives

The property portal has also asked for incentives in the Budget that will encourage more landlords to make their properties greener. It says this will help improve the quality and energy efficiency of rental homes for tenants.

Rightmove insight shows a decline in the number of landlords planning to make energy-efficiency upgrades to properties with lower Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, from 36% in 2022 to 26% last year.

It is calling for bigger, more widely accessible grants or tax savings to help make rental homes greener for tenants.

Christian Balshen, Rightmove’s lettings expert, said: “Due to the lack of available and accessible funding, many landlords aren’t in a financial position to be able to carry out major energy-efficiency upgrades to their properties.

“A further lack of clarity around potential future EPC regulations means we’ve seen a drop in the number of landlords who are actively deciding to make their properties greener.

“Ultimately, this will be to the detriment of tenants who are increasingly wanting to live in energy-efficient properties, and so we’d encourage any financial incentives that can be provided to landlords to improve the energy efficiency of the UK private rented sector (PRS).”