The stamp duty overhaul - how much have buyers saved?

The stamp duty overhaul - how much have buyers saved?

Just over a year ago it was announced that the stamp duty system would be overhauled in order to save the majority of people money when purchasing a home.

Stamp duty land tax – to use it's full name – is the fee which must be paid by purchasers of property or land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, buyers must pay land and buildings transaction tax.

The old system – which was heavily criticised for quite some time – operated in 'slab' bands, meaning that someone paying £500,001 for a property would pay the same stamp duty bill as someone buying a home for £1 million.

To avoid hitting certain thresholds, properties were often being sold below their perceived value, which many people argued was distorting the housing market.

Similar to income tax, the new system is described as being 'progressive' – this means that buyers are charged each tax rate only for the particular part of the value of the home to which it applies.

For example, under the old system, on a home bought for £350,000, the purchaser would pay 3% on the total of £350,000, equating to a stamp duty bill of £10,500.

Since December 2014, however, the buyer of a £350,000 home will have had to pay no stamp duty on the first £125,000, 2% on the £125,000 up to £250,000 and 5% on the remaining £100,000 up to £350,000.

This equates to a stamp duty bill of £7,500, providing the buyer a handsome saving of £3,000.

On the other hand, the new rates have penalised those buying a property over £925,000 – who have to pay 10% on anything between £925,000 and £1.5 million and 12% on anything over £1.5 million.

This is compared to the previous system when a buyer would have had to pay 4% on the total purchase cost between £501,000 and £1 million, 5% on the total purchase cost between £1 million and £2 million or 7% on the total purchase above £2 million.

The new stamp duty system has therefore been criticised by a range of high-end estate agents and investors, many of whom say it has stifled the top end of the property market, particularly in London.

When George Osborne announced the stamp duty changes in last year's Autumn Statement, he said it would save money for 98% of property buyers.

So after a year of the new stamp duty tax bands, how much money has actually been saved?

Well, according to conveyancing services provider My Home Move, buyers have collectively saved £1.9 billion in stamp duty costs.

The firm's research shows that the average saving per buyer in the past year has been £1,500.

It's findings are derived from its own customers' property purchases in England and Wales between December 4th 2014 and November 27th 2015.

Shortly after My Home Move's report, the Halifax published one of its own – claiming that the average buyer is £4,500 better off under the new progressive system.  

The bank calculates that the typical buyer has paid a total of £3,676 in stamp duty since last December, compared to £8,205 before the 2014 Autumn Statement.

The reason Halifax's figures are so different to those posted by My Home Move is that rather than being worked out on a number of specific cases, they have been calculated on the bank's latest average house price of £273,531.

The Halifax report also points out that between May and July this year, 80% of home purchases in England and Wales were above the initial stamp duty threshold of £125,000.  

However much exactly has been saved, it's clear that this change in system has benefitted the majority of property buyers and helped to boost demand for homes during 2015 – long may it continue.

Last month, in this year's Autumn Statement, the chancellor announced that from April 2016 purchasers of buy-to-let properties and second homes will have to pay an additional 3% in stamp duty.

We took a closer look at the new policy in our round-up of the Spending Review.