First time buyers: time to act?

The increased stamp duty relief for first time buyers has not been reversed by the new Chancellor, but it may not survive beyond the tax year.

One of the few tax cuts to survive from Chancellor Kwarteng’s September’s Growth Plan is the uplift to stamp duty land tax (SDLT) relief for first time buyers. This has gone up from £300,000 to £425,000, potentially saving qualifying first-time buyers up to £8,750.

The current SDLT nil-rate threshold for property purchases in England and Northern Ireland is £250,000, but first-time buyers now benefit from an enhanced threshold of £425,000. The additional £175,000 of nil-rate threshold saves SDLT at the rate of 5%.

In Wales the starting threshold for main residential Land Transaction Tax was lifted from £180,000 to £225,00 from 10 October, which should also help first time buyers. Scotland has not yet made any changes to land taxes.

Eligible properties – mind the gap

The maximum eligible property value in England and Northern Ireland has also been increased from £500,000 to £625,000.

  • If a property costs between £425,000 and £625,000, SDLT (at the rate of 5%) is paid only on the excess over £425,000.
  • However, where the cost of a property exceeds £625,000, normal rates of SDLT are paid on the full purchase price
  • This means there will be quite a jump in the amount of SDLT if a first-time buyer just exceeds the £625,000 limit. For example, SDLT on a property purchased for £625,000 is £10,000, but goes up to £18,800 if the purchase price is merely £1,000 higher.

Eligible buyers

To qualify as a first time buyer, the individual must never have owned a freehold or leasehold interest in a residential property in the UK or anywhere else in the world. They must also intend to occupy the property as their main residence.

This can be problematic for joint purchasers, since all purchasers have to meet the qualifying conditions. First time buyer relief therefore does not generally apply if a parent helps their son or daughter get a foot on the property ladder by taking out a joint mortgage with them, if this also means joint ownership.

It would be no surprise if these SDLT relief increases are partly or fully reversed in April 2023. First time buyers planning to purchase a home in the near future might be advised to do so sooner rather than later to take advantage of this relief before it disappears – the relevant date is the point of completion.

To work out how much you could pay or save, see the Government’s online SDLT calculator, which will work for most types of property purchase.

Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash


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