TV star Sarah Beeny, the owner of estate agent Tepilo, has described the Chancellor’s decision to temporarily scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers as a PR stunt.
Philip Hammond revealed in the Budget that stamp duty has been scrapped on all homes valued up to £300,000 for first-time buyers.
But Beeny said the only people this will really help are first-time buyers purchasing high worth properties who already have the funds to do so.
“Essentially, it strikes me as a bit of a PR stunt designed to generate headlines, but something that will actually make very little difference to the market” – Sarah Beeny
She told Express.co.uk: “I’m glad the Chancellor made housing a key focus in his budget today, but in my opinion, most of what I’ve heard won’t make a huge difference.”
She pointed out that the majority of first-time buyers don’t pay any stamp duty or, if they do, it is usually only a small amount.
“A reduction in stamp duty for second steppers and downsizers would make a much bigger difference, allowing people to move up and down the market more freely and cost-effectively – and freeing up first-time buyer and family homes for the right people,” she added.
The Chancellor also pledged to build more homes, but Beeny said these promises are made every year yet little is actually done.
“And although the number of homes built last year is at its highest level since the crash, the number of houses being built is still below pre-financial crisis levels. This must change,” she said.
Beeny’s comments were echoed by several others in the industry.
Russell Quirk, founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk, said the pledge was a story he had heard before and had not been fulfilled.
He explained: “The likelihood of hitting the ambitious target of 1 million homes by 2050 is slim, to say the least, and one that is unlikely to be hit. The ‘urgent’ review of the gap in planning permission and the actual building of houses is also far too little too late and should have been implemented many budgets ago,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders, argued that the Chancellor is tackling only part of the problem – the shortage of new homes, rather than the shortage of homes for sale.
“It’s a mistake made by politicians of all stripes. The lure of the building site photo opportunity, in which a beaming minister dons a hard hat to drive home the message ‘Britain is building again’, is all but irresistible to Westminster.”
He added: “The combination of high rates of stamp duty and falling real wages mean affordability is becoming a barrier for ever more would-be buyers.
“The market is particularly snarled up at the top end, and cutting stamp duty for first-time buyers will do nothing to unblock it. The property market relies on the whole chain working, with buyers at all levels able to move up the ladder.”
“There’s no point opening the floodgates at the bottom of the market if the higher levels remain dammed up by punitive levels of stamp duty and a broken demand and supply dynamic” – Jonathan Hopper, Garrington Property Finders
DealMakerz agrees that the Budget looked like another set of empty promises, rather than providing much-needed clarity over how the country’s housing crisis can be tackled.
We would have liked to have seen a firm commitment to building a set number of affordable homes each year, and perhaps a price cap on properties.
As Beeny pointed out, only a small percentage of affordable housing development is allocated as affordable, and the prices don’t stay affordable for long.