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Low expectations for Spring Budget moves on property market

Wednesday 08 March 2017

Property professionals have low expectations of Chancellor Philip Hammond's action on the property market in his first full Spring Budget. 

The CEO of online estate agent eMoov.co.uk, Russell Quirk, says he doesn't expect the 'current property crisis' to feature heavily and warned that the government's 'head-in-the-sand mentality' towards the property market 'remains prevalent.' 

“We wait in hope that Mr. Hammond is keeping his cards close to his chest and that he has something up his sleeve for UK buyers," in particular, said Mr Quirk.

“As we have come to expect from politicos, much of the property flavour of Wednesday’s Budget is likely to be regurgitated announcements that they hope will continue to grab a headline or two despite being old news. 

"It is this kind of initiative recycling that we saw in the recent Housing White Paper and is seemingly housing market de-rigueur these days.”

He predicted that a 'slight reprieve to the top end of the market' for Stamp Duty tax might be the only new feature. 

He said the 'high-end sector has taken a real kicking where buyer demand is concerned.' 

Mr Quirk said a 'sharp decline in transaction volumes above £1.5m' meant the Government was 'actually making less money', post Brexit, and Mr. Hammond should adjust his housing policies accordingly.

He warned there was a real danger of buyers of £1.5m+ homes becoming disincentivised, which would then congest the market lower down.

He said the Government should be 'promoting aspiration rather than penalising it', and those that can afford a six-figure home were no longer the 'property elite', but the average family in many London areas. 

He called Stamp Duty 'an archaic tax introduced to help fund a war against France many moons ago' that only makes life harder for aspiring UK buyers.

'Pivoting' Stamp Duty, so that it is paid by the seller, would assist those beleaguered first time buyers, he suggested.

He expects cosmetic changes to the Right to Buy initiative which 'would soon fade into insignificance' before they made an impact.

He added that Help to Buy had been 'woeful in addressing the housing crisis', and if anything, had helped to 'fuel demand in a supply constricted environment', which had only served to push prices further out of reach from would-be buyers. 

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