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Stamp duty cut will not push more downsizing – Wilson

by: Stuart Wilson, CEO at Air Group
  • 20/07/2020
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Stamp duty cut will not push more downsizing – Wilson
Property is a political football and stamp duty is the penalty kick, rewarding one part of the market or given as a punishment to another.


That is why governments like having it as a tool to use even if it is a perhaps incredibly blunt way of securing change.

In the lead up to Rishi Sunak’s mini-Budget announcement I commented on the repeated calls from some quarters for the chancellor to introduce stamp duty incentives for downsizers.

I suggested it wasn’t very likely as it was too complex for the current system, and would probably not achieve its aim of getting older people out of larger homes freeing them up for families, essentially because, for the most part, older homeowners don’t want to move out of their homes.

There was, of course, no specific stamp duty cut for downsizers but the catch-all nature of the stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland on properties below £500,000, may lead some to suggest this will result in more activity from those making their last purchases and downsizing.


Difficult market

I’m going to respectfully disagree with that assertion not least because the argument about older homeowners generally not wanting to move still holds firm.

Also those who may genuinely want to move into a smaller property often come up against a market where this is pretty difficult to achieve.

If you’ve been out of the market for a while, you’ll often not be aware of what your money can buy you these days.

For instance, retirement properties are not in abundance, that the often required place by the sea is likely to be costly, and the other costs associated with moving soon add up.

But, that does not necessarily mean older homeowners will not look at their options, and those active in the later life advice space are now equipped with some very flexible, pertinent and affordable products that could allow them to achieve some of their ends without necessarily moving out of the family home.


Downsizing not the only option

Now, I fully appreciate this is not going to play well with those who want these bigger properties freed up for younger families to make the most of, but there is no law in this country to say that homeowners cannot stay put if they wish to.

And now with later life lending and equity release products available to release some of the stored-up equity then there are opportunities.

Downsizing is no longer the only option and that is surely a good thing.

So, for advisers active in this space, there may be a marketing push required which can focus on those homeowners who have had their interest raised by news of the stamp duty holiday, but are perhaps not yet aware of what this will require, and whether it is actually possible to reach that smaller property.



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