Conveyancing Association calls for housing tax reforms

The Conveyancing Association has called on Philip Hammond to abolish stamp duty changes.

The Conveyancing Association has joined calls from the Society of Licensed Conveyors for Chancellor Philip Hammond to reverse housing market reforms implemented in the Spring.

The Conveyancing Association warned the 3% stamp duty increase had hit the buy-to-let market hard and stated the policy change had failed to boost prospects for first-time buyer.

Eddie Goldsmith, chairman of the Conveyancing Association, said: “I think many would agree that we’ve seen rather more than a traditional, seasonal housing market drop-off over the summer – the latest figures from the Bank of England show that mortgage approvals continued to fall with their value down to £17.7bn in August from £19.2bn in June. The impact of the 3% increase in stamp duty charges for additional properties has been sizeable and we’ve seen considerable falls in buy-to-let purchase activity although remortgaging has improved.

“The anticipated boost George Osborne’s measures were supposed to give to first-time buyers appears not to have materialised. The latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show that landlord borrowing was 21% down year-on-year in July, while first-time buyers’ borrowing was down 19% month-on-month, and 4% year-on-year – hardly the renaissance in first-time buyer activity we were led to believe would result from buy-to-let activity being forced downwards.

“When you add in the uncertainty wrought by the result of the EU referendum, the impact across the entire housing market is sizeable. Transaction levels have dropped over the past few months, the market is subdued to say the least and this clearly impacts on the conveyancing sector.

“While we’re anticipating that the market will improve slightly throughout the Autumn, the industry would undoubtedly benefit from a reappraisal of those measures by the new Chancellor in his first Autumn Statement. It may be too much to hope that the 3% extra charge on additional property stamp duty will be abolished, but such a move – as well as a u-turn on next year’s mortgage interest tax relief changes – would be most welcome, sending a clear message that the private rental sector (and those active within it) are not the enemy, whilst breathing much-needed new life into the UK housing market."