Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Stamp Duty Dithering Is Wrecking Home Sales

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Stamp Duty Dithering Is Wrecking Home Sales

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

HOUSE SALES have begun falling through because of Alistair Darlings hints of a stamp duty holiday, it was revealed today.

Estate agents reported that some buyers have pulled out at the last minute in the hope they may escape paying thou-sands of pounds in tax by hanging on.

The industry begged the Chancellor to end the damaging speculation by making an immediate announcement on his plans. Some agents accused him of ham-fistedly making the stricken property market worse. One branded him irresponsible.

But despite fears of bigger falls ahead and the risk of a recession, the Bank of England this afternoon held base inter-est rates at five per cent.

It decided that the risks of inflation were too big to cut the cost of borrow-ing, even though house prices are in freefall and families are being squeezed by higher food and fuel prices. On Tues-day Mr Darling was asked about a pos-sible plan to scrap temporarily the tax or let buyers postpone paying it for years. The Chancellor refused to con-firm or deny it, but said he was considering options to aid the market.

One London homeowner who was due to exchange this morning said his buyer postponed after hearing Mr Darlings comments.

He said: My house, an ordinary Victorian terrace in south-west London, was going for ?770,000 which meant a stamp duty bill of ?30,800. I sympa-thise with my buyer who is under-standably unhappy about paying that amount if there is a chance of avoiding the tax but it has left me in a real mess.

New figures from the Halifax showed that homes lost 8. …

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