The autumn statement for buyers & sellers

The autumn statement for buyers & sellers

Today Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Spending Review as part of 2015's Autumn Statement.

This time last year stamp duty took centre stage as the Chancellor announced a complete overhaul of the property buying tax bands that had been in place for some time.

Stamp duty was once again at the heart of the Autumn Statement, with a 3% increase in stamp duty for buy-to-let and second home purchases announced today.

The new system will be implemented from April next year – around the time Osborne's controversial buy-to-let mortgage interest relief changes will begin to be phased in.

Osborne says the new system is expected to raise around £1 billion by 2021 and the cash generated will be reinvested in new build homes and the extension of the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants.

The other key housing aspect of today's Autumn Statement is that the Government's housebuilding programme has been confirmed.

Some £2 billion will be paid directly to property developers to fund the Starter Homes programme, which will see homes built specifically for first-time buyers, who will receive a 20% price discount against current market rates.

Elsewhere, £200 million will be put aside to fund the creation of 10,000 new homes, which tenants will be able to live in paying sub-market rents for up to five years. They will subsequently be given first option to buy the property.

There will also be 135,000 Help to Buy: Shared Ownership homes built, for which £4 billion has been put aside.

Today's Statement also included the announcement of a London-specific Help to Buy scheme. This will give first-time buyers in the capital the opportunity to secure an interest-free loan for up to 40% of the value of a new home in exchange for a 5% deposit.

As we have said before, any initiatives aimed to help address the current supply, demand imbalance in the UK will always be welcome, but until we can start to see the results of these promises, it's hard to remain unflinchingly optimistic.

The new stamp duty rules will come as a further blow to buy-to-let investors and will also be disappointing for second-steppers looking to move home.

Of course, the upshot of all this is that first-time buyers will face decreased competition from buy-to-let investors and second home buyers which will potentially make it easier for them to take their first steps on the property ladder.

We would now expect to see a surge of demand and activity from second property buyers – and potentially buy-to-let purchasers – in the next few months before the housing landscape becomes a favourable one for first-time buyers from mid-2016 onwards.