While many estate agents including the NAEA welcomed last week’s stamp duty ‘holiday’ for those buying homes under £500,000, a high profile estate agent in London has attacked Chancellor Rishi Sunak over the six-month long tax reduction measure.
Simon Gerrard, managing director of North London multi-branch Martyn Gerrard Estate Agents says the stamp duty suspension is ‘cowardly’ because it will only benefit those who have already decided to move, and those who move in the next four months – because that’s how long it takes to get to completion.
“My concern is that, in a market which already has pent-up demand, the short-term benefit is nowhere near as extensive as the long-term damage of removing it in March,” he told his local newspaper. “Rather than a short-term solution, Sunak should have thought longer-term and reversed stamp duty entirely so that no buyer needs to pay the duty – only the seller.”
Gerrard is referring to an idea proposed by Boris Johnson during his election campaign in July last year. At the time he promised that, if elected, he would consider switching stamp duty from the buyer to the seller.
This never materialised, along with proposals to reverse duty increases on more expensive homes, which were raised by George Osborne from 7% to 12%.
Gerrard claims that switching the tax from buyer to seller would remove the burden for first-time buyers and support second-steppers while maintaining tax funds. But he also says the stamp duty holiday is also a tax on families in London, because the vast majority of family homes in the capital are over the £500,000 threshold.