What the new stamp duty rates mean for first-time buyers: what and where to buy

The number of first-time buyers rose by 22 per cent last year, and now, new stamp duty rates will give first-time buyers even more incentive to go home hunting. We uncover four good-value areas to snap up a starter home on a budget.
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The number of first-time buyers rose by 22 per cent to 327,000 last year, making it the busiest year since 2007 when the figure was 360,000.

Under new stamp duty rates there will be even more incentive for first-timers to go home hunting. There will be no tax on the first £125,000 of a property’s price. Between £125,000 and £250,000, two per cent will be charged and between £250,000 and £925,000, five per cent.

The new progressive system means small increases in price won’t trigger huge hikes in stamp duty fees.

Lucian Cook, director of residential research at Savills, believes it will take some pressure off. “First-time buyers will make savings that they can put towards a deposit, and there will be more property for them to choose from just above the £250,000 mark.”



     Price         Old rate        New rate         Saving    
£200,000 £2,000 £1,500 £ 500
£225,000 £2,250 £ 2,000 £250
£250,000 £2,500 £ 2,500 £0
£275,000 £8,250 £3,750 £4,500
£300,000 £9,000 £ 5,000 £4,000
£325,000 £9,750 £6,250 £3,500
£350,000 £10,500 £7,500 £3,000
£375,000  £11,250 £8,750 £2,500
£400,000 £12,000 £10,000 £2,000
£500,000 £15,000 £15,000 £0

Source: Savills 

Why? Buyers priced out of Clapham and East Dulwich are turning their attentions to good-value Catford.

There are trains to London Bridge in 22 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs £1,472. Local schools are all high achieving, uniformly receiving “good” ratings from Ofsted.

Why not? The housing stock is good but the town centre is drab and grimy. There is, however, some council-planned regeneration.

How much? Richard Wells, director at Hunters estate agents, says the Corbett Estate, a grid of Victorian terraces just east of the town centre, is the place to look.

First-time buyers could invest £250,000 in a two-bedroom flat, or pay £400,000 to £425,000 for a three-bedroom house. Five- to six-bedroom properties sell at about £650,000.

For sale: a two-bedroom top-floor flat within a grand Victorian pub conversion, is on the market for £250,000 with Acorn. 


Why? Already fantastically handy for Canary Wharf, this area is a slightly overlooked beneficiary of Crossrail, which will give it fast trains to the West End and Heathrow, too.

It’s an incredibly mixed property area with Victorian and Edwardian period conversion flats, ex-local authority blocks and a few modern apartments.

Why not? There is no café culture as yet, and SE2 nightlife revolves around a few jaded pubs. Many properties were converted to flats in the Seventies and Eighties on 99-year leases, so some available now are on uncomfortably short leases.

How much? Tony Murray, sales manager at Robinson Jackson, says a two-bedroom conversion would sell at about £230,000, while ex-local authority flats are a budget option at about £165,000.

Families will need between £310,000 and £320,000 for a three-bedroom Victorian terrace.

For sale: a three-bedroom end-of-terrace house, in need of updating, guide price £269,995, is on the market with Edwards. 

Why? This medieval market town is absolutely charming, full of lovely timber-frame cottages and plenty of traditional tea shops and pretty pubs. London commuters can be in the City in less than an hour. Saffron Walden County High School is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.

Why not? This is not London — you must leave the nightlife behind.

How much? From about £125,000 to £130,000 buys a two-bedroom purpose-built flat, according to  Kevin Moll, director of Kevin Henry estate agents. A three-bedroom Seventies house would be priced at about £220,000. 

Character houses in Saffron Walden town centre are expensive but Moll suggests going just a mile south of the centre where you can pick up a  three-bedroom Edwardian house  in Pleasant Valley for about £300,000.

For sale: a picture-book thatched cottage, with three bedrooms and half an acre of garden, is on the market for £250,000 with Cheffins. 

Why? This is a good spot for families seeking out solid schooling. Hertfordshire and Essex High School, for girls, is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, while Bishop’s Stortford Boys School gets a “good” rating.

This is a good-looking market town surrounded by beautiful countryside. Trains from Bishop’s Stortford to Liverpool Street take a speedy 38 minutes and an annual season ticket costs £4,832.

Why not? The town centre is dull but Cambridge is close for nights out. Homes on the east side of town suffer from Stansted airport noise. 

How much? William Wells, a director of Mullucks Wells, says the entry price is about £165,000 for a one-bedroom purpose-built flat.

A two-bedroom Victorian semi costs about £225,000 to £235,000, and modern three-bedroom houses start at about £300,000. Period houses start at closer to £400,000.

For sale: a two-bedroom period detached thatched cottage in a village just outside the town is on the market with Intercounty for £250,000. 


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