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Stamp duty reform top priority for next govt, say homeowners – Rightmove

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  • 31/05/2024
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Stamp duty reform top priority for next govt, say homeowners – Rightmove
Reforming the stamp duty system should be the top priority for the upcoming government, homeowners say, according to a survey.

A survey from Rightmove, which collated views from around 14,000 people, also found that other top priorities for homeowners in addition to stamp duty reform included simplifying the home buying process, incentives to help homeowners make improvements, more mortgage schemes to help people afford to move and incentives for downsizing.

For renters, the most important priorities for the next government should be more support for first-time buyers, more mortgage schemes to help people afford to move, a simplification of the home buying process, building more homes and energy-efficiency legislation for rental properties.

The company said that stamp duty presents a “barrier”, particularly in higher priced areas, and could be preventing thousands of people from moving.

Rightmove called for a more regional approach to stamp duty, and better support for downsizing.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert, said: “At the very least, the next government should make the current changes to first-time buyer stamp duty charges in England permanent, as the higher thresholds introduced in 2022 are due to expire next year.

“But there’s also a bigger opportunity to reform stamp duty to encourage more movement up and down the property ladder. 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.”

 

Homeowners call for improvements to home buying and selling process

Rightmove said that, currently, it is taking seven months from when someone puts their house on the market to when they move, which it described as a “painfully long time frame, with no recent improvement”.

David Cox, Rightmove’s legal expert, said: “It’s vital that the next government works closely with the property industry to come up with standardised solutions to help speed up the homemoving process, to benefit both homemovers and agents.

“Digitisation is key, and there has been innovation in this space, but it also needs a solid focus from the next government. A well-developed and adopted solution has the potential to not only accelerate the home buying process, but also encourages a less stressful, better understood and more seamless transaction for homemovers.”

 

Green legislation clarity along with green grants and tax savings needed

On the green incentives side, Rightmove said that the green agenda had been put on the backburner by the government, pointing to the proposed EPC legislation for landlords being delayed.

The firm said that figures showed that fewer landlords were making energy-efficiency upgrades to lower EPC rated properties, going from 36% in 2022 to 26% in 2023.

Christian Balshen, Rightmove’s lettings expert, said: “Landlords need clarity around any legislation that may come in, but also need help with incentives such as bigger, more widely accessible grants or tax savings, as these in turn will help tenants.”

The company also called for homeowners to have “better and easier access to schemes that enable them to make green improvements, with the recognition that each home requires different improvements, and that currently the upfront costs are a big barrier to change”.

 

More home building and first-time buyer support needed

Rightmove said that accelerating housebuilding would help address the supply and demand mismatch and help more current and prospective homeowners.

Bannister said: “One way that could help to accelerate housebuilding is to streamline the planning process, which is highly complex and challenging.

“If the government can create smoother processes, working closely with all key stakeholders, it could transform the delivery of new homes and produce more affordable housing. Not only could this help first-time buyers, it could also open up a big opportunity to help downsizers move to greener homes with lower running costs.”

The firm pointed to the build to rent sector as a fast-growing area that was helping to some extent, but said there was “still nowhere near enough stock to meet demand”.

First-time buyer support is also crucial, and the most requested priority among renters, as stretched affordability with regard to rising mortgage rates, high rents and the cost of living has made it more difficult to save.

Matt Smith, Rightmove’s mortgages expert, suggested a review of mortgage affordability criteria could help: “There’s an opportunity to unlock greater affordability in a responsible way, which could help more first-time buyers get on the ladder.

“First-time buyers are already taking out longer mortgage terms, and lender innovation has included the introduction of longer-term fixed rates that are likely to be part of the solution as they help by ensuring certainty of payments.”

He added: “Various mortgage schemes have played their part and supported a number of people, and we know from our study that people would like to see new schemes introduced, but we think longer-term solutions would be more effective than short-term schemes.

“Either way, it’s most likely that regulatory change is needed, so it’s critical that the government works with regulators and lenders from day one on any mortgage solutions, to ensure buy-in and take-up, which will in turn create more options for first-time buyers.”

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