North London estate agent brands government’s stamp duty holiday as ‘cowardly’

Simon Gerrard

Simon Gerrard - Credit: Archant

An estate agent with offices in Crouch End, Kentish Town and Muswell Hill has slammed the government’s stamp duty holiday as “short-sighted” and “cowardly”.

As the coronavirus lockdown is eased, the government has been rolling out schemes designed to reinvigorate the economy, which included offering a half-price discount on restaurant meals up to £10.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak also revealed a reduced rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax for homes bought from 8 July to 31 March next year.

Buyers will only pay the tax on properties valued above £500,000.

READ MORE: Camden house prices fall for second year in a row as Brexit continues to cause concernSimon Gerrard, managing director of Martyn Gerrard Estate Agents, said the holiday will mainly benefit deals already agreed or those ready to buy in the next four months.

This is because the tax takes about four months to come into effect after an offer, he said.

“My concern is that, in a market that already had pent up demand, the short-term benefit is nowhere near as extensive as the long-term damage of removing it in March,” Simon said.

“Rather than a short-term solution, Sunak should have thought longer-term and reversed stamp duty entirely, so that no buyer needs to pay stamp duty - only the seller.

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“He had an excellent opportunity to reform stamp duty by making it a tax on the seller rather than the buyer; but he didn’t take it. This was a cowardly move.”

Switching the tax from buyer to seller would remove the “burden” for first-time buyers and support “second-steppers” while maintaining tax funds, he said.

Mr Gerrard also labelled the move as a tax on “families in London”, because it will still be difficult for those in the capital to move without being impacted.

This comes as HMRC’s data suggests UK residential property transactions in May 2020 were 49.6 per cent lower than in May 2019.

A spokesperson from the Treasury said: “The housing market has been hit hard by the outbreak with 175,000 missing sales - so we are doing everything we can to get the country moving again.

“Our cut in stamp duty will help drive growth and support jobs across the housebuilding and property sectors.”

They said when the holiday ends, first-time buyers will not pay stamp duty for purchases up to £300,000.

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