Estate agents in Sheffield have seen a surge in activity on the housing market following a surprise change to the stamp duty system - with first-time buyers likely to be first in line to benefit.
The chancellor George Osborne announced an overhaul of the 300-year-old tax in his Autumn Statement last week, bringing in a new regime structured similarly to income tax.
He claimed the move would benefit 98 per cent of home buyers, saving £4,500 on house prices of £275,000.
Nick Riddle, director at Eadon, Lockwood and Riddle, said his firm had experienced a ‘flurry of activity’.
“In some cases, homebuyers will save thousands of pounds – the difference between committing to a purchase or not,” he said.
“We have already received calls offering asking price on 21 properties that had previously received lower offers.
“Now that the majority of buyers aren’t burdened in the same way by outdated stamp duty fees, they are better placed to pay what the property is really worth.”
Buyers will now pay two per cent duty on any costs from £125,001 to £250,001, a rate of five per cent on any portion between £250,001 and £925,000, 10 per cent on the next chunk up to £1.5m and 12 per cent on any cost above that.
Nick said: “There are some properties in the area that, under the new scheme, will incur a higher rate of tax. We are lucky enough to live in a stunning county with some really beautiful, large homes with lots of land.
“Of course we will continue to work with those home owners to ensure they receive the fairest deals whilst continuing to attract buyers.”
Joanne Bloor, from Bloor and Co, said the change promised to have a ‘positive effect’ for her business - but those wishing to move to or from Sheffield’s most affluent areas would be the worst affected.
“It will have a negative effect on a market that’s not doing particularly well anyway.
“We’re not inundated with properties over £1 million in Sheffield, but there are quite a few around the £650,000 mark. In the S11, S10, S7 and S17 postcodes, these areas may not see the desired effect.”
Stuart Goff, managing director of the Hunters offices in Crookes and Woodseats, said the new system will lead to an ‘evening out’ of house sales, which up until now have tended to cluster just under each tax threshold.
Previously a rate of three per cent kicked in at £250,000.
But Stuart added next year’s election made predicting housing market conditions difficult. He said people should ‘buy now’, warning: “Houses are only going to get dearer in 2015/16.”