Stamp Duty is still the biggest hurdle to overcome for new buyers in UK property

Stamp Duty is still the biggest hurdle to overcome for new buyers in UK property [Photo: designer491 via iStock]

When the chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his Autumn Statement speech on Wednesday (November 23rd), as always, the property market will be eagerly awaiting any announcement that affects both buyers and sellers, with this time of year typically being when the chancellors of the past have chosen to make changes to the sector. 

And it will be one of George Osborne's legacies from previous Budgets that will be under the microscope once again this month. Mr Osborne previously made it slightly cheaper for young buyers to purchase their first property when he changed the tax band system for Stamp Duty, but Mr Hammond is under pressure to completely reform the tax in a more significant way. 

Experts are calling on the government to reverse Stamp Duty charges and place the burden on sellers rather than buyers. While this would mean the charges still taking place, and subsequently money still coming into the government, a shift one step up the ladder would mean that those taking their step onto the bottom rung would not face the charge, making their first purchase much cheaper than it has been in the past. 

A survey by YouGov for Yorkshire Building Society found that this could have a significant impact, with as many as 60 per cent of potential first-time buyers stating that being able to buy a home without paying Stamp Duty would make it significantly easier. This is compared to just 22 per cent who said it would not make a difference. 

Some 72 per cent of those surveyed said that the upfront cost of buying a home, which includes Stamp Duty, is the major barrier to them being able to take a step onto the property ladder. 

The building society said that a move to remove Stamp Duty for buyers would mean that the average first-time buyer across the UK would save more than £3,000 on the cost of their home, while those who are buying in London would make an even more significant saving of more than £13,000.

"Saving enough to pay stamp duty adds to the overall difficulty of buying a home. It is hard enough for buyers to find the right property in the right location without the need to pay additional fees and taxes, given the scale of house price inflation in recent years," said Andrew McPhillips, chief economist at the Yorkshire Building Society, who called on the government to make the change to sellers, not buyers, paying Stamp Duty.