Independent property advisor and commentator

Stamp Duty - why appearances can be deceiving
Ed Mead // 21st August 2017

Stamp Duty - why appearances can be deceiving

The latest Stamp Duty Land Tax figures are out and yet again the Treasury will be rubbing their hands.

However, if you remove the take from the additional 3% surcharge, they show a tax tottering on the edge of a flat period and looking set to fall off a cliff.

The irritation is that this hasn’t happened yet and that the pip-squeezers in the Treasury still think they can continue to get away with it.

The fact is they won’t, and the only people cheering them on are buying agents looking to leverage any possible negative piece of political or economic data to press selling agents to take lower offers.

To be fair to them, there’s been plenty of that negative information floating around..

Further irritation is generated as it’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that the damage to UK Property PLC has already been done.

Like a supertanker, it will take ages to turn things around and persuade people that a Tory Government really isn’t doing its best to smash a carefully won reputation for welcoming inward investment from overseas.

As if misguided elections and referendums weren’t enough, there still seems to be a determination to completely ignore those active in the market and plough a fiscal furrow that clearly ignores the needs of both consumers and property professionals.

Yet again we have another housing minister (OK, this time there was little choice due to an administrative ****-up otherwise known as a General Election) who doesn’t sit in Cabinet and doesn’t seem particularly keen to interact with the industry.

My view of the market has come from almost two generations of working in London, and the damage is clear and exacerbated by the Government’s compete ignorance as to what drives the market in the capital.

I’ve said it before, and hope someone reads this – the bits of London that bring in huge investment are not driven by the increasing size of families but by a desire to be seen to be living in a smarter area by their peers.

People don’t move from Fulham to Chelsea to buy a bigger house, but because it makes them feel good – and IF you choke off the top end of the market, seen as a target with few vote losses by a procession of misguided Chancellors, you clog up the market further down and people simply stop moving.

To anyone working in the market, this is blindingly obvious. This mechanism may be counter-intuitive BUT it is very much the way the top end of the London market works.

No one in charge seems to want to understand this and by the time receipts fall it’ll be too late and combined with Brexit will demote London to a second tier global city.

It’s too late for me to be overly bothered, but for those a generation down it’s a real pity – and could so easily have been avoided.

The Treasury may have thought it a win/win, but I’ve little doubt it’ll be a lose/lose situation very shortly.

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