CA urges Welsh Govt to speed up housing market reopening

The Conveyancing Association (CA) has urged the Welsh Government to speed up the reopening of its housing market to match the recent changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) introduced with immediate effect in both England and Northern Ireland.

The trade body for the conveyancing industry pointed to the lack of any evidence in England to suggest the opening of the housing market has caused an increase in COVID-19 cases, or put property stakeholders at any greater risk.
 
Last month, the Welsh Government announced only a partial reopening of the housing market in Wales – meaning house moves can only go ahead where the residential property had been unoccupied for at least 72 hours. House moves can also only take place where a sale has been agreed but not yet completed.
 
“We fully appreciate the public health concerns that the Welsh Government is weighing up when looking at when to fully open the housing market,” chair of the CA, Paul Smee, commented. “However, we must also highlight that there is no evidence to suggest that opening up the English housing market has caused any spikes in cases.
 
“If it continues to work at a slower pace, and if it feels unable to match the stamp duty changes made in England and Northern Ireland, we believe it is only fair that the Welsh Government explain its reluctance to open up the market and provide a much needed activity catalyst, given that all evidence elsewhere suggests this would be a safe outcome.”

The CA has also asked the Welsh Government to consider matching the Government’s changes to stamp duty for purchasers in England and Northern Ireland in its own Land Transaction Tax scheme.
 
Currently in Wales, no tax is paid on the first £180,000 of a property, however it increases to 3.5% up to properties valued at £250,000, 5% up to £400,000, and 7.5% up to £750,000.

Following the UK Government’s announcement on Wednesday, residential property purchasers in England and Northern Ireland buying property under £500,000 will pay no stamp duty, up until the end of March 2021. The CA suggested this will mean subdued activity levels in Wales even when the market is fully opened up, because of the differences in the amount of tax to be paid.
 
CA operations director, Lloyd Davies, added: “To not match the stamp duty changes will seem particularly galling for prospective home purchasers in Wales, will prejudice the sale of those homes, and will be perhaps most keenly felt by those living, or wanting to live, in border towns and counties.
 
“Every week that the Welsh housing market lags behind its closest neighbours is a week further away from genuinely being able to kick-start the economy, and we would urge the Welsh Government to act immediately before the damage grows even greater.”

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