5th November 2008 

The gathering storm clouds yesterday were expected to  prelude a tornado in the housing market today - and so it has turned out.  Instead of launching a Grace Darling of a lifeboat to provide some succour to the millions drowning in negative equity and repossession threat, Chancellor Darling has pulled the plug on what's left of the market by inept indecision and half promises.

What few sales estate agents have been nursing through over the last few weeks have dropped anchor this morning,  following asides from the bridge that the captain MIGHT reduce Stamp Duty, or holiday it, or even delay payment  to some future date, but that he's 'not yet decided' when or how. 
I ask you, who's going to proceed with a purchase if delaying a few weeks might mean the saving of certainly 1%, maybe 3% and perhaps even 4% of the purchase price? Colleagues in the industry I've spoken to today are apoplectic over this final back-breaking straw as they see what was left of their turnover keel over in a matter of twelve hours.
"Mr Darling must act today and announce an immediate suspension of Stamp Duty at all band levels. There must be no 'lead-in' time, and no half measures such as 'delayed payment' or 'first-time purchasers only' , just an immediate cessation of the moving tax" says Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents, who's own office is in Gerrards Cross, South Bucks.   
"If he attempts to lessen the cost to the Treasury by only dropping Stamp Duty on the 1% band (up to 250,000 purchase price) the initiative will fail to refloat the housing market, as lower price sales are still in chains with higher priced properties  and they need the Stamp Duty savings too to encourage them to proceed".    
Finally the mooted 'delayed payment' of the Duty would be even worse that no 'holiday' at all, in effect becoming a short term 'loan' where purchasers will have to factor in having to pay the tax in perhaps 12 months time, "no doubt Darling has given no thought at all to how mortgage lenders would react to a purchaser being committed  to finding Stamp Duty of thousands of pounds a year or so into the repayment period - the man's crazy" concludes Trevor Kent. "It's now or never, and it's got to be now".
Trevor Kent PPNAEA
01753 885522
Former President NAEA and regular property market commentator and broadcaster

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