House buyers have nothing to fear from tax changes

The next few months should be an interesting time for the property market. Picture: John Devlin

The next few months should be an interesting time for the property market. Picture: John Devlin

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THE coming months are set to be an interesting and dynamic period for Scotland’s property market as we welcome the introduction of the Scottish Government’s new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), which replaced Stamp Duty on 1 April.

I would offer my assurances to anyone who is preparing to sell and may be concerned that the new LBTT regulations will bring an end to the favourable and competitive conditions we’ve witnessed since the UK government decided to reduce the Stamp Duty bandings last October.

The new, more progressive LBTT bandings will mean buyers will pay no tax on the first £145,000 of a property – that’s an extra £20,000 tax free compared to the current Stamp Duty levels.

So, with the average price of a one-bedroom home across the region coming in at around £135,000, many buyers are in for a welcome break. I am confident this will provide an appealing incentive, together with a more favourable lending regime to encourage those looking to take their first step on to the property ladder and for second-steppers buying bigger homes.

As a result of this increase in buyers and the resulting competition this will create, there is potential for sellers to feel compelled to continue to bring properties to market to make the most of the emerging environment. The best course of action for anyone preparing to buy or sell is to take advice from the experts who can guide you through options best suited to your circumstances.

In addition to LBTT providing incentives for first-time buyers, new pension rules that came into force yesterday will provide an additional boost to activity at the other end of the market, particularly among those looking for buy-to-let opportunities.

Therefore, for the majority, I believe that the new tax bandings present very little cause for concern. Buyers and sellers alike need not be afraid of what’s to come. With an abundance of excellently positioned and well-priced properties across Scotland, there has rarely been a better time to buy.

• Paul Hilton is chief executive of ESPC, George Street, Edinburgh

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