Ealing Estate Agents Ask: Why Prime Minister?

As Gordon Brown comes to leafy suburb to unveil his first time buyer policies

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Estate agents were left understandably bemused that Gordon Brown had picked our pricey borough to unveil stamp duty changes that will have very little impact on the housing market here.

According the latest official data, the average property in the W5 post code area now stands at £387,849 down 7.6% from a year ago. In W13 prices are down by 5.5% to £371,036.– double the £175,000 price that the bottom rung of stamp duty has been raised to for a year.

One local estate agent said: "This may help people in the north, but from where I am standing in west London, this will make not the slightest jot of difference."

"You really can't find anything below £175,000," said Andrew Gilbert, from Winkworth estate agents.

The only properties below this price in the borough are one-bedroom studios, mostly in ex-council flats.

"First time buyers that come through our doors usually have a budget of £300,000 to £350,000," added Mr Gilbert.

"Moving the stamp duty threshold up to £175,000 is irrelevant around here. For our area stamp duty is not a motivating factor, and frankly, I'd be surprised if it was a motivating factor anywhere else."

Ealing Central and Action Conservative candidate, Angie Bray, asked why come to Ealing when only 16 out of 722 properties currently for sale would be affected.

"Gordon Brown clearly hadn’t done his homework when he chose Ealing to make his announcement," said Angie. "The average house price here is £329,000, nearly double the temporary threshold announced on Tuesday.

"Gordon’s sums don’t add up either – it is now clear that the benefit to the tax-payer will be significantly less than the figures trumpeted on Tuesday. But of course with Gordon and his Government nothing is what it seems. Announcements made one day quickly unravel the next when they become subject to proper examination. Tinkering with Stamp Duty for one year only does nothing to address the real priority of helping first time buyers. He is calculating that the depressed housing market is likely to improve in due course and by that time, hey presto!, first time buyers are hit with the full force of his tax.

"It is the Conservatives who are proposing a permanent change to the Stamp Duty regime, raising the threshold to £250,000 for first time buyers which would see 9 out of 10 of them paying no tax at all. And for Ealing, this would mean taking the average priced flat out of the stamp duty altogether.

"That’s the real change we need, but of course this isn’t about doing what is right, it’s about a diminished Prime Minister trying to buy off a leadership challenge.

"Most people in Ealing would see Gordon Brown’s smoke and mirrors routine as comic, were it not for the fact it has such a serious impact on us all."


September 5, 2008