Sunak’s coronavirus stamp duty holiday ‘very, very welcome’, Suffolk estate agent

The chancellors announced the stamp duty holiday as part of the July 2020 mini-budget Picture: GETT

The chancellors announced the stamp duty holiday as part of the July 2020 mini-budget Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Suffolk estate agent expects the chancellor’s stamp duty holiday to keep the housing market busy through the usually quiet summer months.

Last week, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that from July 15 until March 31 2021 buyers will pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of their purchase, in an attempt to boost the market following lockdown.

The measure is expected to mean 90% of people will pay no stamp duty at all and will save an average of £4,500.

Oliver Johnson, partner at Clarke & Simpson estate agents, described the news as “very, very welcome”.

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He said: “I think those who may have been wondering about looking at a property or moving this year, this has urged them on.

“We have been very busy these last few weeks. We were putting it down to pent up demand from 2019 and the lockdown period but everyone is talking about the rate reduction and we had over 60 viewings this Saturday alone – it’s incredible really.

“There had been some speculation that it would be announced in the budget this autumn. There was a worry it would stall some purchasers from making a decision if they thought there was a saving to be made in the autumn. So we’re delighted that the chancellor announced it with immediate effect.”

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According to Mr Johnson the stamp duty holiday may not help first-time buyers as they have been exempt from stamp duty on properties up to £300,000 since 2017.

He said: “There was already the incentive for first-time buyers that there was no stamp duty up to £300,000 and that’s been around for a little while. That along with help to buy are the life blood of the market, there’s no doubt about that. Transactions beyond that level – outside of first-time buyers – needed some help and an incentive as well. It also helps people buy properties in excess of £500,000, there will still be stamp duty to pay but in some cases it will be much reduced.

“It’s directed at purchasers but most vendors are going on to buy something else so they will benefit too.

“There has been numerous debate about whether house prices are going to fall or if they did fall during lockdown.

“Essentially during lockdown the market went into a state of paralysis – we had the good foundations, the good makings of the market. We started the new year in fine fettle and we were very hopeful that we were going to have a good year and then Covid-19 stopped us in our tracks.

“As far as we are concerned we have not seen any evidence of house prices being reduced as a result of the pandemic. Mid and east Suffolk is our key patch and we’re still achieving prices at the guide prices we’re quoting – and through competitive interest, sometimes slightly above.”

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The move has also been welcomed by major housebuilding firm Bloor Homes, a national company with several developments in Suffolk including in Stowupland, Bury St Edmunds and Melton.

Mark Powell sales director at the firm, said: “The housebuilding industry is a major contributor to the UK economy and while construction stopped during the lockdown period, we have seen buyers both coming to the market, or resuming their house buying journey with a certain confidence.

“While there has been no sign of the help to buy scheme being extended because of lockdown, the scheme itself and todays stamp duty holiday will provide a much-needed stimulant to the new homes market.”