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A cautious welcome for changes to stamp duty

Following yesterday’s Budget from Chancellor Alistair Darling, the BBC has reported a "cautious welcome" from estate agents and mortgage lenders to proposals aimed at helping first-time buyers establish a solid footing on the property ladder.

Provided buyers have never previously owned a property and the purchase constitutes their main home, sales under £250,000 will be exempt from stamp duty until March 2012. However, under a new Labour government it would be increased to 5% from April next year for properties heading to the market at more than £1m.

The move has been met with some concern from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), which claims it might have been “far simpler" to apply the exemption to all properties under £250,000, arguing it could prove difficult to define a first-time buyer according to the terms set out.

Some estate agents also expressed misgivings, worried that the increase for properties sold for more than £1m would "put a real dampener" on the higher end of the market and create a short-term rush to hurry those sales through.

The last changes to stamp duty came in 2008, which saw a hike in the stamp duty threshold from £125,000 to £175,000 designed to reinvigorate the ailing property market.

To read the BBC’s article in full, click here.

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