Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Stamp Duty Dithering 'Will Hit House Market'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Stamp Duty Dithering 'Will Hit House Market'

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

ALISTAIR Darling today came under mounting pressure to make up his mind over stamp duty or risk further damaging the housing market.

Estate agents said his hints at a tax holiday for homebuyers could backfire badly by causing people to pull out of deals in the hope of saving money later.

The Conservatives said Mr Darling was guilty of a giant blunder that could at worst trigger a faster collapse in the fragile property market over the summer.

The furore follows a radio interview in which the Chancellor confirmed he is looking at a temporary reprieve from stamp duty as a possible measure to boost the market this autumn.

Although he said no decisions had been taken, he did not deny reports that the tax could be scrapped for a period or that buyers could be allowed to postpone payment for several years.

A spokesman for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said any delay in a final announcement risked undermining the market. "People may baulk at following through if they think they may save themselves ?8,000 to ?10,000 by waiting a few weeks," he said.

"Our next monthly report will show whether this becomes a significant factor in the market." The average London homebuyer would save almost ?9,000 if there was a temporary suspension of stamp duty, which must be paid to the Government on completion of a deal.

Robert Bartlett, chief executive of estate agents Chesterton's, said the Chancellor's comment had "put more uncertainty in an uncertain market" and he urged a swift statement to clarify the situation. …

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