1st-time buyers boosted by stamp duty cut

The cut in Stamp Duty Land Tax for first-time buyers is working, according to the UK’s estate agents. The number of sales to first-time buyers rose to 29 percent in February, up 2 percent from January.

Meanwhile, the year-on-year figures for February were the best monthly results for newcomers to home ownership in three years.

Figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) show that demand from first-time buyers is helping to boost the property market with the numbers of house hunters down by 16 percent in February with fewer properties also being put up for sale.

The association’s data revealed that almost three-quarters (74 percent) of properties are being sold below the asking price with only a measly 4 percent going for above the asking price. A fifth (22 percent) were sold for the asking price.

Mark Hayward, chief executive of the NAEA, said: “Since the Chancellor cut stamp duty for first-time buyers, there have been a good level of sales to the group, but they haven’t rocketed.

“Our members have noticed FTBs holding off on making purchases since the rule was introduced – typically outside of London – opting instead to save for longer to maximise the full stamp duty relief.

“This may be one reason sales are up but not as high as we might expect; the other reason is the cost of buying is still very high, and FTBs are still finding it difficult to save for their deposit.

“As the cost of living continues to rise – with consumer price inflation standing at 2.5 per cent in February – we still have a long way to go to make the dream of owning a home accessible to all, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.”