Chancellor George Osborne delivered the 2011 Budget this week. Among the points of interest for home owners are the £250 million FirstBuy scheme, designed to help 10,000 first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder (which may have a positive effect further up the chain); a number of measures intended to increase housing supply, including a presumption in favour of sustainable development; changes to the planning system¹s Use Classes Order, which could potentially make it easier to change a building¹s use from office to residential; and a fundamental revision in the way Stamp Duty is levied on residential bulk purchases, allowing investors to pay it at the rate appropriate for the mean value of the units being bought, rather than on the rate applicable to the total value of the portfolio.

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