Scots housing market stagnant in July, report finds

Image source, PA

A lack of available properties and the effect of transaction taxes left the Scottish housing market "stagnant" in July, according to a new report.

A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found price growth across the UK fell from 7% to 1%.

It said Scotland's Land and Building Transaction Tax bands created a "bottleneck", discouraging some sales.

The Scottish government insists LBTT is "more progressive" than stamp duty and "benefits the vast majority" of buyers.

The transaction tax was introduced in April 2015 as a replacement for stamp duty north of the border.

Holyrood's finance committee declared the introduction "operationally successful", but concerns have been aired about the top end of the market.

The latest residential survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) found the lowest levels of price growth around the UK since 2013.

Estate agents said may people considering moves in Scotland were instead making improvements in their existing homes, due to a limited choice of properties for sale.

'Much-needed fluidity'

Rics believes LBTT bands are part of the problem, with policy manager Hew Edgar saying: "This latest survey merely reinforces what we have been saying for some time - that the current LBTT bandings are creating a bottleneck in certain areas of the market, and encouraging property powers to eschew moving in favour of improving their current properties.

"The Scottish government must address this problem by reviewing the LBTT framework and putting in place a structure that would inject some much-needed fluidity into the market."

The group's chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said sales activity across the UK had been slipping in recent months, and said the latest surveys suggested "this could continue for some time to come".

A Scottish government spokesman said the Rics survey was "not backed up by the latest property data", arguing that the Scottish housing market had outperformed other parts of the UK in the first half of 2017.

He said: "Since the introduction of LBTT, 93% of taxpayers have paid either less tax compared to SDLT (stamp duty land tax) or no tax at all.

"We will continue to monitor all parts of the market closely. More generally, we have committed continuing with our shared equity programmes which will enable more people to realise their dreams of home ownership."

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