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Half of FTBs pay stamp duty

Only half of first-time buyers avoid paying stamp duty despite the threshold being more than doubled over the last two Budgets.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders found that 50 per cent of first-time buyers and 80 per cent of all people moving pay stamp duty despite Chancellor Gordon Brown raising the threshold from 60,000 to 120,000 in the 2005 Budget and by a further 5,000 to 125,000 this year.

In April 2005, when the CML started collecting stamp duty data, the number of first-time buyers paying the tax was 44 per cent. The figures show that although the upper limit has more than doubled, this has not saved a significant number of FTBS from paying stamp duty.

CML figures point to just a 1 per cent drop in the popularity of fixed-rate loans from 70 per cent of all loans in February to 69 per cent in March. The CML believes this reflects the rise in medium and long-term interest rates, which has reduced the attractiveness of fixed-rate deals, and says the downward trend is likely to continue.

Director general Michael Coogan says: “The survey shows that the proportion of mortgages taken out by first-time buyers is low. With half of them having to pay stamp duty, it is clear that tax continues to add to their affordability problems.

“The reform of stamp duty is long overdue. If it had been uprated in line with house price inflation since 1997, the threshold would stand at 145,00, helping many more first-time buyers on to the property ladder.”

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