Sales to first-time buyers are up since Stamp Duty was scrapped
Sales to first-time buyers rose in February, according to NAEA Propertymark.
The trade body said that the Chancellor’s first-time buyer stamp duty relief is having the desired effect, as sales to the group rose to 29% in February, from 27% in January. Year on year, first-time buyer sales were the highest since February 2015.
The average number of sales agreed per estate agency branch rose from seven in January to eight last month – the highest amount since October 2017, said the NAEA. The number of prospective house-hunters fell by 16% in February – from 367 registered per branch to 309. Year on year this is down by a significant 28%.
In line with demand, the number of properties available for sale per branch dropped from 36 in January to 35 in February. Three-quarters of properties sold for less than the original asking price in February, with only 4% of sellers getting more than the original asking price.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “Since the Chancellor cut stamp duty for first-time buyers, there have been a good level of sales to the group, but they haven’t rocketed. Our members have noticed FTBs holding off on making purchases since the rule was introduced – typically outside of London – opting instead to save for longer to maximise the full stamp duty relief.
“This may be one reason why sales are up but not as high as we might expect; the other reason is that the cost of buying is still very high, and FTBs are still finding it difficult to save for their deposit. As the cost of living continues to rise – with consumer price inflation standing at 2.5% in February – we still have a long way to go to make the dream of owning a home accessible to all, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.”