Gatehouse estates

Stamp Duty – Good For First Time Buyers?

The Autumn budget took place at the end of November 2017 and whilst many may think that we should have written this blog at the time but we wanted to see if the changes to the stamp duty have affected the market in the first few weeks since the announcement.

The property market is forever evolving and it can also have some seasonal trends too. So it is very difficult to gauge at this stage how the recent lift on stamp duty will affect the market.

This also got us thinking about how seasonal trends affect our industry and whether now is the right time to be selling your property. Traditionally, the December period is quieter for estate agents. People tend to have other things on the mind as they make a mad dash to be prepared for the big day! However, this is also a time when people are not working as much so this then means that people will be thinking of planning ahead for the New Year. We here it a lot in our line of business where people generally say, “we’ll wait until after Christmas and we’ll look to move next year now”.

A Fresh Hope For FTB’s

Whilst the stamp duty ‘lift’ has given fresh hope to first time buyers, there are many other factors that FTB’s need to consider. The saving of a few thousand pounds sounds like a lot but it actually only works out to be a small percentage of what they need to find to be able to obtain a mortgages.

Days of the 100% (or even 110%) mortgage are well and truly behind us so lenders still require a deposit. If the average FTB property is priced around £150,000 – you will still need to find at least £10,000, sometimes as much as £15,000 for a deposit.

Looking at the maths on this, the question that FTB should be asking is; do I have this in savings to start this process. The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is a popular talking point as well because we are finding that many parents are gifting their children a deposit to buy. This sounds great doesn’t it?! But, the mortgage lender still has a criterion that any borrower must meet in order for them to approve the loan. (i.e. earnings, existing outgoings, credit rating etc).

Buying a property is more complicated that it used to be and, so it should be because mortgage lenders have a responsibility (in our opinion) to ensure that affordability is at the top of the agenda.

Stock Levels Are Lower Today

Hypothetically speaking, if a FTB is in a position (with deposit and a mortgage in principle from the lender) then they are ready to buy. To buy what?

Over the last 5-10 years we have seen more and more investment buyers ‘snapping up’ the stereotypical FTB home. Why? Property can be seen to be a good investment and since the credit crunch, savings and ISA’s appear to have dropped down the popularity list for those investing. If you are able to get a rental return of 5% (rental yield) then this is a much better investment. Don’t forget that with house prices increasing, the property becomes an even bigger asset.

This leaves first time buyers scrapping to find the perfect home and certainly in competition with many who are looking to expand their rental portfolios. Some may say that estate agents do not mind who buys a property – well, in our case, we feel that more starter homes are required.

Here lies the next problem….. Developers are having to pay premium prices for land so therefore they need to maximise every square foot they can. This means that less starter homes are being built and those properties that are being built are out of reach for your stereotypical first time buyer.

Back To Stamp Duty!

The easiest way to explain the change to the recent stamp duty levels is the follows:
Stamp duty has been abolished for first time buyers who are purchasing a property up to the value of £300,000. Stamp duty starts at £125,000 unless you are buying a second home so a first time buyer buying a two bedroom at £160,000 will stand to save £700. Not a huge saving really on the grand scheme of things, they’ll pay more than that for conveyancing…

For those who are buying a property up to £500,000, stamp duty is not due on the first £300,000 of the purchase price. Don’t forget that this is only applicable to first time buyers and not those second or third steppers.

We found a really article here on the BBC website that helps explain this in more detail.


What Do You Do Next?

If you are looking to buy your first home, come in and see us or give us a call to discuss the process. You could spend hours researching online but we are on hand to help you.

Trust your local estate agent!

We understand the stresses and strains of buying and selling property. We see it everyday and we appreciate that some people are given the wrong information. We are in the business, we see the trends and we have the experience to help you every step of the way.

We hope this blog has been useful and feel free to share this with your friends.




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Why is Godmanchester so popular?

There are many reasons why people choose to live where they do.

I met one couple who have lived in Godmanchester for 40 years because whilst driving through one day, he needed a toilet stop and happened to park next to a nice house that was for sale, three months later they had moved in.

Here though in no particular order are other reasons why Godmanchester is popular with buyers.

  • Two very good primary schools
  • Catchment area of Hinchingbrooke School
  • We are on the bus route for Kimbolton School
  • We have a wide variety of shops & businesses
  • We have easy access to the A1, A14 & A428
  • We are within walking distance of Huntingdon Train Station
  • There are some great pubs & restaurants in Godmanchester
  • We have an eclectic mix of properties
  • The Causeway, recreation ground & town centre are all very pretty
  • There are some great walks from Godmanchester including The Ouse Valley Way
  • There is a visible sense of community spirit in Godmanchester
  • There is an active Church, Quaker Centre and Baptist church
  • We have free and ample parking around Godmanchester



How to choose an Estate Agent

If you have a family home or investment property and are looking to sell it then choosing an Estate Agent is the most important part of the process.

It sounds simple, get a few Estate Agents to give you free valuations and choose one. Sadly it’s not that straight forward.

There are lots of things to take into account even before you pick up the phone.

  • Which Estate Agents do you choose to do the valuations, most areas have 10+
  • Are you in favour of supporting local business?
  • Have you dealt with a company or companies before?

The reason I raise these questions is that, in my opinion, you should have three valuations, use local independent firms and never choose a company that has failed to impress you before.

Is there an Estate Agent who has a high number of SOLD signs, not lots of FOR SALE’s?
Is there a very local firm that will appreciate your business?
Smaller, owner run business tend to give a much higher level of personal service.
Has a friend or family member recommended someone at a local Estate Agency?

I keep mentioning ‘local’ and there is a reason for that.
I have heard of Estate Agents not wanting to do viewings on properties because it’s going to take them 15 minutes to get there, half an hour to do the viewing and 15 minutes to get back. A whole hour of their day gone!

There is also the the fact that the further away you are from your area the less you know about school catchment areas, local clubs & associations, shop opening hours, train times etc.

When you call each agent to book your valuation, how is your call handled? Are you grilled for info, do you feel like your filling in a telephone questionnaire or is it as simple as booking an appointment?

Always bear in mind that the company will send their best salesman to the valuation and in many cases that may be the last time you see or hear from them. Ask how their business works, who does the viewings and as importantly who will negotiate with the buyer on your behalf.

First impressions count, you will have a first impression of your Estate Agent & so will your buyers.

Choose the Estate Agent that is sensible on the price of your property.

Choose the Estate Agent that offers a realistic fee for the service and doesn’t try to tie you into a sole agency.

Choose the Estate Agent that is going to appreciate your business.

Choose the Estate Agent that you think you can work with best.

Choose the Estate Agent that you are confident will negotiate on your behalf, otherwise you will be paying thousands in fees and loosing thousands on the value of your home.


Hope this helps…




House for sale in Barringer Court, Godmanchester

3 bedroom link detached house for sale


Barringer Court,  London Street, Godmanchester. PE29 2HU

Located in the heart of Godmanchester in a courtyard setting this family home was converted in 1986 from a former Brewery building. The accommodation comprises entrance hall, cloakroom, a 27’ kitchen/dining room, a 26’ sitting and family room, a four piece bathroom and three bedrooms. To the front is a south facing courtyard garden, a garage and off road parking.
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