Stamp duty changes failed to have big impact on the market

A library image of a woman looking at houses for sale Photo: David Cheskin/PA Wire
A library image of a woman looking at houses for sale Photo: David Cheskin/PA Wire
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WHEN changes to stamp duty were announced in late 2014, many hoped the move would lead to a dramatic increase in the numbers of people moving house.

A new survey reveals that the outcome was more complex than most observers had anticipated. Despite significant changes to the house buying market in 2015, the number of people moving home fell slightly from the previous year, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Home-mover Review.

When the stamp duty reforms were revealed in Chancellor George Osborne’s 2014 Autumn Statement, analysts predicted that they would benefit 98 per cent of home buyers purchasing a property.

Although stamp duty changes provided a savings boost for many “home-movers” and rising house prices helped to increase equity levels for those already owning their own property, the number of people moving house in 2015 stood at 365,000, which is slightly behind the 366,400 who moved in 2014.

While the 2015 levels are 16 per cent higher than the 2009 market low of 315,800, they are just half of the 2006 peak level of 712,000, the study said.

Over the past five years, the average price paid by home-movers has grown by 30 per cent from £210,252 in 2010, to £273,491 in 2015 – an increase of £63,239, which is equivalent to a monthly rise of £1,054. This was a marginally faster rise than the increase in average house prices across the whole market (29 per cent), according to the Lloyds survey.

The average deposit put down by a home-mover has increased by 22 per cent in the past five years, from £74,649 in 2010 to £91,020 in 2015 – this is equivalent to 33 per cent of the average price paid by the people moving home. London continues to see stronger growth than the rest of the UK, as average prices paid by home-movers in London have increased by 51 per cent to £515,004 in the past five years.

London home-movers have also put down the largest average deposits – £183,353, which is 36 per cent of the average property value. At the other end of the scale, Northern Ireland saw the average price paid by a home-mover drop four per cent to £157,368, and also the smallest average deposit of £43,380.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, the average house price was £198,545 in 2015, which was a 10 per cent rise from the year before, according to Lloyds Bank’s review. The average house price in Yorkshire and the Humber in 2005 was £161,776, the study said. The average deposit in Yorkshire and Humber last year was £61,064, which is around 31 per cent of the purchase price.

Stamp duty changes, introduced in December 2014, provided home-movers across the UK with a boost by providing buyers with an average saving of £4,530 on purchases.

The largest savings last year were made by home-movers in East Anglia, where someone buying at the average price of £255,028 paid £2,751 in stamp duty fees compared with £7,650 before the change, according to the survey from Lloyds, which tracks conditions for those who already own a home. The review uses data from a range of sources, including the Bank of England. Andrew Mason, Lloyds Bank mortgages director, said: “The 2015 stamp duty changes, low mortgage rates and rising real pay growth, provided more favourable conditions for home-movers in 2015. Although that hasn’t translated to any increase in numbers, 2015 brought good news to home-movers.

“We might have expected the change to the stamp duty structure to have resulted in greater numbers,’’ he added.

“The ongoing increase in house prices throughout the year will have been especially welcomed by those who bought at the peak of house prices, who have been looking to rebuild their equity in order to make their next move.”