Where are the UK's stamp duty exempt hotspots?

Property Reporter
16th September 2020
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The government's stamp duty holiday is often cited as the driving force behind the UK housing market's recovery. However, as the old property mantra states, it is all about location, location, location. So where is best to take advantage of it?

New research by property group, Andrews, has identified the 10 UK towns and cities where 99% of current housing stock listed for sale will be exempt from stamp duty for first-time buyers and people moving up or down the property ladder.

The firm looked at properties currently listed for sale in more than 100 major UK towns and cities to identify stamp duty exemption hotspots.

Bootle in the northwest of England is the only town which is entirely stamp duty exempt for buyers who don’t have a second home or buy-to-let. All 106 properties currently on the market in Bootle are below the £500,000 stamp duty-free threshold temporarily introduced by the Government from 8th July 2020.

Not surprisingly, the ten towns that are members of the "99% Club", are all in the north of England, with four towns - Bootle, Blackpool, Wigan, and St Helens - in the North West, and four towns - Middlesbrough, Gateshead, Darlington, and Hartlepool - in the North East.

Hull is the only city on the list with at least 1,000 properties currently for sale. Of the 1,209 properties for sale, 1,203 would be exempt from property tax for buyers who don’t have a second home or rental property.

In contrast, London, Winchester, and Bath have the lowest percentage of stamp duty exempt properties currently on the market, although this does mean more first-time buyers and home movers are eligible for the maximum £15,000 stamp duty saving.

Just over a third of properties (36.1%) for sale in the capital are potentially exempt from stamp duty, and that means almost two-thirds of London buyers could enjoy the maximum £15,000 tax saving.

Similarly in Winchester and Bath, both popular locations for families looking to move out of London for a better quality of life, a significant number of properties are above the stamp duty holiday threshold but will qualify for a £15,000 property tax saving.

The Government announced on 8th July, the stamp duty-free threshold would rise to £500,000 until March 31, 2021. This decision means that for large swathes of the country buyers will pay no stamp duty at all on a property purchase.

David Westgate, Group Chief Executive, Andrews Property Group, comments:

“Our research shows just how impactful the Government’s stamp duty holiday has been, and many towns are benefitting from a near stamp duty-free environment.

“The stamp duty freeze has lit the touchpaper and galvanised the property market. There was so much pent-up demand during lockdown, and we expected to see a rebound in transactions when restrictions were lifted, but the level of buyer and seller activity we’ve seen across the southwest region has exceeded expectations.

“For sellers who might be thinking that it’s worth hanging on to see if prices continue upwards, my advice would be don’t wait. Demand is high at the moment with plenty of motivated buyers keen to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday and competitive mortgage rates.

“No-one knows how long this mini-boom is going to last, and house price growth is unlikely to continue at its current rate, particularly with the furlough scheme due to end on 31 October. For buyers and sellers alike, there hasn’t been a better time to complete transactions.”

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