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Call to scrap Stamp Duty surcharge, house prices, and other property news

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In these strange and difficult times, markets are behaving anything but normally. That goes for the housing market just as much as any other aspect of life.

To shine a little more light into some of the current developments on the housing front here are few snippets of the latest news and views ...

Calls to scrap stamp duty surcharge for landlords

Although much activity within the private rented sector is suspended at the moment, commentators are already looking forward to the lifting of lockdown and ways to stimulate this sector of the housing market.

An article in Landlord Today on the 1st of May, for example, returned to the thorny issue of the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge on the purchase of second homes such as but to let property.

There are renewed calls for government to scrap the surcharge in order to encourage potential landlords to invest in buy to let property once the Covid-19 emergency has passed and the demand for private rented accommodation makes an expected bounce-back.

Critics of government policies have argued that greater regulation and more punitive tax regimes – including the Stamp Duty surcharge – have been responsible for landlords selling up and moving out of the market completely. As a result, the number of private sector landlords reached a seven-year low for most of 2019, says the article.

Moving house after lockdown: when will it return to normal?

An article in the Telegraph newspaper on the 20th of April also looked forward to likely changes in the housing market post-lockdown.

The current lockdown, of course, means that all but a few property transactions have been suspended. As the current measures begin to be lifted, a release of the pent-up demand can be expected. But will this renewed activity result in higher house prices, or will market-wide recession continue to depress prices?

With confidence lowered – especially among foreign property investors – house prices in the UK are unlikely to rebound quickly, say the analysts, who predict a fall in property prices of between 5% and 10% and possibly as much as 15% during the remainder of this year.

This puts sellers in a very difficult position – and one that is expected to persist for some time to come. Instead of offering their home at a discount in order to secure a sale, they might want to wait until at least 2021 before looking for any transaction to be completed.

Latest cities house price index

In a posting dated the 28th of April, online listings site Zoopla came to a similar conclusion about the stalled housing market, commenting that as many as 370,000 potential sales are still up in the air.

Although the number of completed transactions has plummeted, however, Zoopla found that there were only 4% fewer sales listings with estate agents compared to the situation pre-lockdown at the beginning of March.

Even more optimistically, it found that house prices had seen an average annual increase of 1.8% to the end of March – compared to an increase of just 1.2% in the previous year.

How to happily live together during lockdown

Have you discovered the secret to getting along with whoever is sharing your home with you yet?

On the 28th of April, Property Reporter offered a few tips and suggestions to those tenants and room-mates who are currently sharing their living space at rather closer quarters than those to which they are probably accustomed.

To make lockdown with other people in the home just a little more bearable therefore, consider:

  • giving each other sufficient space from time to time – don’t spend all your time facetiming people in communal areas, for example. People may want some peace and quiet;
  • remembering that noises, smells and hygiene take on an even more important consideration when you are living at constantly close quarters – keep the kitchen clean and bear in mind that not everyone enjoys the lingering smell of cooked kippers etc;
  • letting each other know your expected daily schedule – who’s planning to do what when. This is especially important if one of you is working from home (so you may need to have a 9 – 5 routine) and another is furloughed and so can be more relaxed about bedtimes etc; and
  • making every effort not to be selfish. Don’t use up the last of the toilet roll or bread! Create cleaning and shopping schedules.