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UK house price growth in November dipped for the sixth consecutive month but changes to the Stamp Duty property tax is expected to boost sales, according to the latest report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The tax changes announced last week in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement could result in a sales boost of between 2% and 5%, according to the RICS Residential Market Survey. Despite 15% more surveyors reporting a decline in new buyer enquiries and a fourth consecutive fall in supply to the market, surveyors are expecting more house sales in response to the reforms, although expectations in the capital were more muted. As speculation continues over how much the new changes will encourage existing property owners to put properties on the market, the reforms come in a month that saw house price growth fall to its slowest pace since May 2013, a 13% net balance, and the number of houses for sale per branch fall back to its second lowest reading of 56. It was also clear from member comments that uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the forthcoming general election is providing potential purchasers with a reason to sit on their hands and new buyer enquiries have now declined for five consecutive months. Across the UK, price growth was strongest in Scotland and the South West, both with a net balance of 37%, and weakest in the North of England and London. Meanwhile in the rental market, tenant demand was steady in November, but landlord instructions declined for the eighth successive month and member' forecasts for rent over the next 12 months now stand at 2%. ‘The Stamp Duty reform could reverse the softer trend in buyer enquiries that has been visible in recent months but a critical issue in terms of how it plays out with prices is whether it also encourages more vendors to consider putting their properties back onto the market,’ said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist. ‘The expectation from members that transactions could increase by up to 5% over the next year on the back of this measure suggests that there is a belief that supply will indeed respond to the tax change. This is all the more important given that the latest RICS data suggests that the average level of inventory on surveyors' books is close to a historic low,’ he added. According to Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at RICS, it is no surprise that surveyors are expecting an uplift in the market in response to the long overdue reforms to the stamp duty tax system. ‘Removing the dead zones will reduce the distortion in the market and ensure that those at the top end of the market will now contribute fairly, while those at the bottom will be given a fairer chance to get on the ladder,’ he explained. Continue reading →
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