Surveyors expect stamp duty overhaul to boost sales

Despite 15 per cent more surveyors reporting a decline in new buyer enquiries and a fourth consecutive fall in supply to the market, surveyors polled by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors expect more house sales in response to the stamp duty reforms.

As speculation continues over how much the end of the “slab” stamp duty bands will encourage existing property owners to put properties on the market, the reforms come in a month that saw Rics state house price growth has fallen to its slowest pace since May 2013.

According to the latest Rics’ survey the stamp duty reforms announced in the last Autumn statement have prompted surveyors to forecast a sales boost of between 2 per cent and 5 per cent.

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Across the UK, surveyors reported price growth was strongest in Scotland and the south west and weakest in the north of England and London.

Meanwhile in the rental market, tenant demand was steady in November, but landlord instructions declined for the eighth successive month and member forecasts for rent over the next 12 months now stand at 2 per cent.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist of Rics, said: “The stamp duty reform could reverse the softer trend in buyer enquiries that has been visible in recent months but a critical issue in terms of how it plays out with prices is whether it also encourages more vendors to consider putting their properties back onto the market.

“The expectation from members that transactions could increase by up to 5 per cent over the next year on the back of this measure suggests that there is a belief that supply will indeed respond to the tax change.

“This is all the more important given that the latest Rics data suggests that the average level of inventory on surveyors’ books is close to a historic low.”

Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at Rics, said: “It is no surprise that surveyors are expecting an uplift in the market in response to the long overdue reforms to the stamp duty tax system which the chancellor himself called ‘the most damaging tax of all’.

“Removing the ‘dead zones’ will reduce the distortion in the market and ensure that those at the top end of the market will now contribute fairly, while those at the bottom will be given a fairer chance to get on the ladder.”