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Have first time buyers really not heard of stamp duty?

New research from TSB claims that “22% of first time buyers are not considering the cost of stamp duty before making an offer on their potential home”. Even more scary is the survey suggests that 14% of people who have bought before don’t think about it either.

The research continues with scary stats claiming “stamp duty is equivalent to almost 10% of the average deposit”. Apparently that’s around £5,000, although this is where I start to doubt the research, and I’m not sure it works for Lincoln. This would mean a deposit of £50,000 would pretty much buy you a flat outright (with an extra £10k thrown in)!

What is scary is the research then claims 10% of first time buyers “turn to credit cards as a means of paying”. Personally, I wasn’t aware HMRC allowed you to pay your taxes via credit card!

I know I am coming across as quite cynical, but to be honest I find this research astonishing. The cost of stamp duty regularly hits the headlines as an unfair tax, and on several occasions successive governments have tried to woo voters by offering “stamp duty holidays” for first time buyers. So how can people possibly buy a property and not know they have to pay it?

To me, this is the equivalent of saying “22% of people buying a car don’t realise they need a driving licence”. This makes me think. I am sure car salesmen would either have to or would check if someone had a driving licence prior to them taking a car away – and would certainly need to see it for test drives. So what on earth is the property industry not doing if a buyer gets to offer stage and doesn’t realise they have to pay stamp duty?

To buy a home you typically go through an agent, a legal company and a lender, so are we really saying that in a quarter of cases, three different experts are not informing buyers of the cost of stamp duty? Hence my cynicism, as I can only conclude this research is either rubbish or buyers really aren’t doing their research properly if they don’t know the costs they will incur. Plus if they don’t know about stamp duty, what other costs and responsibilities are they missing? Do they not know they need insurance either?

There is another possible reason which the researchers didn’t take into account though, and that’s as the average house price is just £165,000 in England and Wales and the stamp duty threshold you start paying starts at £125,001 that actually, despite the noise often made about paying it, many outside of London and the South don’t actually need to.

Lincolnshire is a great case in point. According to the Land Registry for January 2014, our average house price is just under the stamp duty level at £123,785, so for the average buyer, no stamp duty will need to be paid and for many of our local first time buyers, hopefully you won’t have to pay anything like £125,001 to buy your first home.