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Rightmove Calls for Stamp Duty Reform to Boost Housing Market

Rightmove has called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to implement stamp duty reform in the upcoming spring Budget, proposing measures aimed at revitalizing the housing market. The property portal has outlined three key reforms: regional adjustments to stamp duty rates, a new mortgage scheme, and incentives for landlords to enhance the energy efficiency of their properties.

Recent Rightmove data has spotlighted the uneven impact of stamp duty across different regions of England, noting the disparity in tax exemptions due to uniform thresholds. For instance, in London, only 4% of homes for sale are exempt from stamp duty for all buyers, in stark contrast to 71% in the North East. Similarly, for first-time buyers, less than a third of London properties are exempt, versus 90% in the North East.

Rightmove suggests that tailoring stamp duty thresholds to regional property prices could not only assist first-time buyers but also stimulate market activity across various segments. Tim Bannister from Rightmove remarked, “Stamp duty is a big barrier to moving… With such regional variations in property prices, increasing stamp duty thresholds in line with these regional variations would seem a logical first step for stamp duty reform.”

Amid speculation about a 99% mortgage scheme, which would necessitate only a 1% deposit from buyers, Rightmove emphasizes the necessity of broader measures to support potential homeowners. Matt Smith, Rightmove’s mortgage commentator, pointed out, “Whilst we support new solutions to help more first-time buyers, the 99% LTV mortgage alone is likely to support a relatively small group. More needs to be done to strike the right balance.”

Additionally, Rightmove has highlighted a decrease in landlords’ willingness to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties following the government’s retraction of certain energy targets. In response, the portal suggests enhancing financial incentives for landlords to make such improvements, thereby benefiting tenants and the environment alike.

Christian Balshen, Rightmove’s letting specialist, noted the financial and regulatory barriers landlords face in making energy-efficient upgrades. He advocated for financial incentives to encourage landlords to invest in making rental properties greener, stating, “Ultimately this will be to the detriment of tenants who are increasingly wanting to live in energy-efficient properties.”