House sales news - Solicitors and agents right to fear stamp duty hike

Following an increase in stamp duty for properties valued at more than £2 million, some house sales solicitors are concerned that the trade in high-end properties could slow to an all-time low and it appears that new figures are backing up this view.

In March the rate of stamp duty for high-end properties was increased to 7% and the Land Registry have just released figures which saw sales in this sector fall by 40%.

In 2011, 205 homes were sold for more than £2 million in March, but this year's figures show just 124 such properties were sold.

When the increase was announced, estate agents voiced concerns that the raised level of duty could spell disaster for certain chains which specialise in high-value properties.

However, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne maintained that the move had been justifiable. He said that an increase in stamp duty is "fair when money is tight, and so many families could do with help that those buying the most expensive homes contribute more".

London house sales solicitors will be pleased to learn that despite the increased stamp duty, the region remained the most buoyant in the last 12 months, with average property values increasing by 7.7%.

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