Country houses for sale

Market Up, But Stamp Duty Bites

Property website Rightmove has again found house prices rising all over the UK, although the month-on-month pace has slowed.

From mid February to mid March, Rigthmove found the average property price went up from £201,600 to £203,399, a rise of 0.9%, and an indicator that people are willing to pay higher asking prices, despite some experts predicting a slowdown in the market while it readjusts itself.

Rightmove has also drawn particular attention to stamp duty this month, as it found only a mere 16% of properties on its books were priced below the stamp duty threshold of £120,000. ?The tax is now a mandatory cost of home ownership, as it is not a realistic option for purchasers to avoid it by being more selective in their criteria,? says the report.

Miles Shipside, commercial director of the company, said: ?You?d have thought that record prices and most buyers being caught by the stamp duty trap would have slowed the market. However, the need to put a roof over your head and lack of other options mean buyers are faced with no other realistic choice than to stretch themselves further if they can.?

If stamp duty were to be adjusted to make it realistic for most first-time buyers to be able to avoid paying the tax, the new rate would have to be set at £166,000 by the Government, Rightmove calculated.

It predicts that levels of wage increases are going to determine how the market performs for the rest of the year, as there are signs that affordability is now becoming an issue, as bourne out by the fact that house price inflation slowed in March, down from 2.7% in February.

Mr Shipside continued: ?After several months of confidence building activity, it could be that we are entering a period of stability. We expect prices to fluctuate within a fairly narrow range according to local supply and demand, with the exception of the south, where there has been a disproportionate increase in disposable income.?

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