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Will today's buy-to-let boom end in tears?

Property agencies report a surge in demand for London buy-to-let property ahead of the looming surcharge on stamp duty.

But some fear the excitement will come to an abrupt halt after 1 April, as investor interest slows.

The 3% surcharge will increase the stamp duty on a £1.5 million property from £93,750 to £138,750, a hike of £45,000.


Guy Meacock, head of the London office of buying agency Prime Purchase, said: “Move up the price scale and the difference is even more marked – an extra £75,000 on properties costing £2.5 million and £150,000 on properties costing £5 million.”

Meacock said that the capital’s property market will be "front-loaded" as a result. “We have seen continued growth in activity in London in what is usually one of the quietest times of the year.

“It is quite clear that something is propelling the market to some degree of action.”

He welcomed Chancellor George Osborne's tax crackdown, saying it should level the playing field between first-time buyers and overseas investors, second homeowners and landlords.

“Broadly, such moves are positive. Something has to be done when Londoners are being priced out of their own city.”

Meacock expects overseas investors to "pause and take a breath on London" which should make for a healthier market with fewer speculators.

Jonathan Stephens, managing director of property investment consultany Surrenden Invest, has reported a 50% jump in new enquiries since the stamp duty surcharge was announced.

But he does not foresee a drop-off in overseas demand after April. “Compared to the majority of international real estate markets, closing costs in the UK will still remain comparatively low.

"Some overseas buyers are used to paying up to 15% to close a deal back home."

Stephens added: “UK buy-to-let looks likely to continue to be an attractive asset for those seeking a savvy investment and we believe that residential property will remain the UK's most profitable asset class long after April 2016."


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