The announcement that Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is to be charged at a flat rate of 18% means a tax break for second home owners. CGT is a tax on the difference between what was paid for an asset and what it is sold for. For properties barring the primary residence, CGT is currently 40% for the first three years of ownership, falling to 2% per year to a minimum level of 24% after a decade. From April, when the flat rate of 18% is introduced, the amount second home owners will be asked to pay when they sell will therefore be dramatically less.

Liam Bailey from Knight Frank said: ‘This will help to underpin demand for second homes and prices of second homes. However, the second home market prices are very expensive in most parts of the UK, and affordability is the key to demand.’

The only short term effect which could be seen as a result of this discovery is that people previously intending to sell this year or early 2008 may decide to wait until April to maximise the profit they will make as a result of this change.