Thank-you Mr Chancellor...
- Credit: PA
Housing was once again top on the chancellor's agenda as he delivered a headline grabbing autumn statement earlier this week. And guess who will be feeling the pain most? Probably you and I! Property editor Caroline Culot reports.
Wasn't it a year ago that we were all interpreting the new changes to stamp duty or 'slab tax' as it was nicknamed and this week, once again the chancellor delivered an interesting edict for housing in his mini budget - promising more building on the one hand but finding the money to do so by hitting the buy to let and second home sector. What may have seen like the answer to the nation's property prayers with Osbornes' pledge to double the housing budget actually carried, in my opinion, a rather nasty sting in its tale with the hike in stamp duty from April next year on buy to let properties and second homes. Driven by the idea of building houses for people to actually live in (let's hope we start enticing more builders into the construction industry otherwise we may be building them ourselves) the chancellor's pledges, if nothing else, has taken out the joy of dabbling in property for the nation. Because this is not going to hit the serious landlord who will simply put up the rental prices to recoup the extra in duty he's had to pay. Instead, the hike in stamp duty, which equates to having to pay £3,300 more on a £150,000 home to rent out, will hit the likes of you and I who are either using a bit of inheritance money or have released a sum from our pensions to invest in bricks and mortar after seeing our cash drain away in stocks and shares over the past few years. The benefit of being able to buy a little property to do up and rent out with the idea it could perhaps be a city bolthole or place for your child to live after uni - with the knowledge that it will act as a little nest-egg for your future - is now somewhat dampened. The reality is that to afford it in the first place, you are going to have to sacrifice six months rent or more just in duty. And this comes after two other bitter blows in this area - the chancellor cut tax incentives for landlords in the emergency summer budget in July. From 2017 mortgage interest relief on rental properties will be reduced to the basic rate of income tax only, and the wear and tear costs have been replaced with a new system that means landlords can only deduct the exact amount that they will incur. And then there's another blow in the form of changes to capital gains tax too which now must be paid on residential property within 30 days of any taxable house sale from April, 2019.
But it was Wednesday's hike in stamp duty which has got agents considering how the market will react. Here's a snapshot of the immediate response to the changes:
•Ben Marchbank, Bedfords: 'We have done a recent analysis of our buyers and found, in mid November, that 70% of buyers who had exchanged on properties with us in 2015 had been buying a second home so some of those people would be deterred by this. I think it will have an impact right now because people will be looking to market their homes now instead of waiting until the spring, to find those buyers before April. We will see unusual levels of activity until April when it will quieten down. David Bedford has a saying: 'You don't buy a Bentley if you can't afford to fill the tank,' meaning people may not be too put off by having to pay more but people don't like changes and although they won't hold off coming to the market forever, this will make many people unhappy and it can cause a lull. After the announcement, I rang six people I have recently seen who were thinking of marketing their homes in around March and suggested we should perhaps think of doing it sooner - two out of those six have already organised for me to have the keys.'
•Nick Eley, a partner at Watsons: 'I think it may make things really difficult for those people who up to now have used property to subsidise their pension and it could result in a spike in the market of people wanting to buy properties before April.'
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•David McMaster, head of lettings at Gilson Bailey: 'It will result in an increase in demand for rental properties and therefore impact on prices - rental prices will go up. I have been staggered at the increase in rents over the past 12 months and keep thinking there must be a limit. I am just thankful I own a property myself.'
•Mike White, Martin & Co lettings: 'It's not looking too hot for would-be landlords but Osborne is missing the point because the impact of rents going up is that tenants will be worse off, not the landlords, and we don't have the labour force to build all these houses and first time buyers still can't find deposits. However, I think the rental sector has been buoyant over the last 10-15 years and there's enough buoyancy to see it through.'
•Johanne Davey, Allgood & Davey: 'I wonder whether the increased stamp duty on second or buy to let homes, designed to raise money, has a quite clever hidden agenda. It is argued that these types of property have driven up demand, helping to cause price increases, and if they are additionally taxed to those purchasers, houses will be cheaper for local buyers and may keep prices in check. On the down side it will make property ownership less interesting to landlords and could reduce the availability of rented accommodation, putting pressure on rents. If buy to let purchases fall, the chancellor won't get his anticipated income.'
What do you think? Are you a would-be landlord? Or are you struggling to find a rental property or a home to buy? Email email@example.com