Property professionals across the region cautiously welcomed the Chancellor's intervention in the housing market today, in which the main measure will see a year-long holiday given to Stamp Duty Land Tax on properties up to £175,000.
Ann Lever, residential partner at Knight Frank in Liverpool, said: "It looks as if some relief has arrived at last. Simple and well thought through measures all help rebuild people's confidence levels and get them buying again, combined with good news that the lenders are making money available at much better rates. Every little bit helps – it's great news."
Bill Chandler, partner in the property and construction practice group at law firm Hill Dickinson: "It's a good move, not so much for the 8-10% of house sales which will be taken out of the SDLT regime for a year (although the £125,000 – £175,000 bracket which will benefit will presumably include a higher proportion of properties in the North West than the South East) but more because it puts an end to the uncertainty caused by the Chancellor's recent admission that the Government was considering such a move, which has affected transactions at all levels pending clarification.
"But if the market had not been affected by the suggestion being made in the first place then I doubt we would be cheering quite so loud, since the number of transactions which will benefit is limited and there are currently so many other factors stopping potential buyers in that price range from buying. History shows that a stamp duty holiday may achieve a brief short term stimulation of the market but little more."
Mike Brassington, director at Colliers CRE: "The cliché 'too little too late' springs to mind. I fear the only positive of today's announcement on stamp duty is that it has at last clarified the matter and cleared the air. The build up of speculation over the last months on when and what was to be announced only further damaged the market. The few purchasers that were out there held off committing themselves due to uncertainty.
"Whilst the increase of the exemption threshold from £125,000 to £175,000 may assist slightly in the North I doubt it will have little effect in the South. More consideration could have been given to the steep step from 1% to 3% duty for transactions over £250,000. Halving this tier of duty to 1.5%, in addition to the exemption, would have made more sense and stimulated second buyers to move up the property ladder. This would ease the potential bottleneck in the housing market for both new and existing property owners.
"Overall a stamp duty "holiday" alone is not a cure to the present position and much still depends on the banks providing appropriate funding packages."
Phil Furlong, partner at Venmore: "Stamp duty is already at the £150,000 threshold instead of £125,000 for much of Liverpool and I can't see this announcement having a massive impact in the city. Elsewhere on Merseyside where the threshold is £125,000 it will have more of a positive impact. However, Venmore believes the Government could have been bolder and ramped the threshold up to at least £200,000, or suspended or scrapped the duty altogether."
Mike Groves, managing director of Thornley Groves Estate Agents in Manchester: "This measure will affect a larger proportion of transactions than people might first think, although the headline average price in the UK is higher than the new threshold a very large proportion of the total available housing stock across the country is priced at or below £175,000. When this third of the market starts to move the people selling those properties will in most cases be moving up market thus feeding active buyers into the rest of the market place."
William Rees, residential development associate director at DTZ in Manchester, commented: "Any assistance in the current climate is naturally good news. With the average house price in the North West at around £133,500, the lifting of the threshold will benefit a number of home buyers, particularly those in the semi-detached marketplace, where average values in the region are £135,000. The reduction in the total cost of buying a semi-detached house by an average of £1,350 will be welcomed by buyers."