HOME FRONT with Jenny Knight
The big give-away in the Autumn Budget was the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers for homes worth up to £300,000 – but is it enough to help Londoners?
According to John-Paul Burrough, sales manager at Marsh & Parsons in Tooting, every little helps. His office has seen more enquires from first-timers since the Budget announcement and he thinks it will have a positive effect.
“It’s too early to judge the full effect because people are still thinking about it, but I think further into the year it will have a positive effect. People will have spent time over the Christmas holidays working out finances and probably asking the bank of mum and dad. They might say that now that stamp duty is down, ‘let’s get on with it’.
“It’s definitely a good time for first-time buyers. There are opportunities in south London for them to find a one-bedroom or two-bedroom flat or cottage with a wide variety of property types.
“At Marsh & Parsons, we recently sold a cottage for £485,000. With bank rates going up now is the time. I don’t understand why people are all keen to buy when other people are buying, but when the market is steady they hesitate. Now the market is a little bit more relaxed, this is the time to look round and go for it.”
While the Treasury calculated that about 80% of first-time buyers will pay no stamp duty at all, the picture is not so rosy in London with its higher prices. However, according to Savills, with the average first-time buyer home in the capital now costing £479,000, this cuts the stamp duty bill from £13,950 to £8,950. The reduction is expected to appeal to the bank of mum and dad who are typically reluctant to give any more of their money to the Treasury.