Stamp duty explained: who can benefit from the first-time buyer relief?

 

One of the biggest changes to come from last month’s Autumn Budget was the stamp duty relief for first-time buyers. Can investors take advantage, too?

Following the announcement, Chancellor Phillip Hammond said: “Hopefully, by abolishing stamp duty land tax (SDLT), which will save the average first-time buyer about £1,700, that will be a help and an incentive to focus on getting the deposit together, getting the money together to get on the housing ladder, and we hope that many more young people will be able to get on the housing ladder.”

What are the changes?

The current SDLT threshold is £125,000 for residential properties and £150,000 for non-residential land and properties for general buyers. As of 22 November 2017, first-time buyers of a home costing £300,000 or less will not be required to pay any stamp duty.

For properties of between £300,000 and £500,000, first-time buyers will only pay 5% on the amount of purchase price above £300,000. For anything above £500,000, normal SDLT applies.

The rates of SDLT are as follows:

Portion of consideration Current standard rates Rate for first time buyers
Up to £125,000 0% 0%
Over £125,000 and up to £250,000 2% 0%
Over £250,000 and up to £300,000 5% 0%
Over £300,000 and up to £500,000 5% 5%

Who can benefit?

As Hammond pointed out, the main purpose of scrapping stamp duty for first-time buyers is to help struggling youngsters to get on the housing ladder.

So what about those who are yet to buy, but are hoping to purchase an investment property to rent out while they either rent or, perhaps, remain living at home with their parents?

Unfortunately, to qualify as a first-time buyer, you need to be “an individual or individuals who have never owned an interest in a residential property in the United Kingdom or anywhere else in the world and who intends to occupy the property as their main residence“.

So you must be planning on living in the property, rather than renting it out, and you can’t already own a bolthole abroad.

Another requirement, if buying with someone else, is that both or all of you are first-time buyers. This rules out anyone hoping to purchase a property with a parent, for example, who has already owned a home.

However, budding investors could still use the stamp duty tax relief to buy a property and then potentially rent out a spare room to recoup costs while living there, or live in it before selling it on to benefit from capital appreciation.

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