Leading local estate agent Mullucks Wells has written to eight MPs in the region, calling for their help to lower the rate of Stamp Duty, which is paid by anyone buying property valued at over £125,000.
The MPs who have been contacted are: Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch, Brentwood and Ongar MP Alex Burghart, Harlow MP Robert Halfon, Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing, Hertfordshire North East MP Sir Oliver Heald, Hertford & Stortford MP Mark Prisk, Broxbourne MP Charles Walker and Braintree MP & Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party James Cleverly.
In the letter, Residential Director William Wells writes: “Only recently it was reported that house prices have seen their biggest monthly fall since 2010, mortgage approvals are at their lowest for five years, and homeowners are now moving only once every 14 years, instead of every nine years as they did prior to 2007.
“Much of the cause of these woes can be levelled at the ridiculously high levels of Stamp Duty Land Tax, which are freezing entire chains of potential house purchases as people are deterred from trading up. This also means that older people are staying in houses which are too big for them, preventing young families from buying homes appropriate to their needs.”
Commenting on his letter, William Wells adds: “Stamp Duty should be on top of the Government’s shame list. Not only does it dissuade people from moving, but an analysis of HMRC stamp duty statistics for the second quarter of this year suggest that receipts are down 13.8%, or £317m, from the same period in 2017.
“This is despite an increase in the top rate of the duty from 7% to 12%, and the additional homes 3% stamp duty surcharge. In large part this is considered to be due to a 17% fall in transactions over the past three years. As ever, if you put taxes up, receipts for the Treasury tend to fall.”William Wells says that an inconsistent approach from Government combined with poorly thought-through legislation and draconian taxation is preventing the property market from functioning to its fullest potential.
He explains: “We have had 18 housing ministers in 20 years. There are 160 pieces of legislation that you have to take into account before letting a house out, and property transactions in the UK are currently taking over 16 weeks from agreeing the sale to exchange of contracts.
“A reduction in stamp duty would help all those involved in the property market, both directly and indirectly. So the government should look at the total tax take – including stamp duty, income tax and VAT. And if they could stop seeing the property market simply as a huge cash cow, everyone – including the Treasury - would benefit.”