Fall in sales of £2m-plus homes, says Land Registry

Stately home
Image caption The chancellor said that those who bought more expensive homes should pay more tax

The number of homes sold for more than £2m - now subject to a higher stamp duty rate - fell at the end of last year, new figures show.

There were 103 £2m-plus homes sold in December in England and Wales - an 18% drop from the same month a year earlier, the Land Registry said.

Of these, 80 were sold in London, where prices have been rising the fastest.

The sales came before Chancellor George Osborne introduced a new 7% stamp duty rate in Wednesday's Budget.

There are various rates of stamp duty land tax - paid by the buyer of a property - already in place, depending on the cost of the home.

The chancellor said that those who bought the most expensive homes should contribute more. This will mean the buyer of a home at a cost of more than £2m must pay at least £140,000 in stamp duty.

The Treasury expects the measure to raise £150m in the next financial year, rising to £300m by 2016-17.

First-time buyers

The Land Registry provides the latest accurate data on the sales of homes at certain price bands.

In December, the biggest proportion of homes were sold for between £100,000 and £150,000, with a total of 14,385 sold.

Any first-time buyers who bought homes at this price would have been exempt from stamp duty at the time.

However, from Saturday, all buyers of homes sold for more than £125,000 will have to pay stamp duty because this exemption is coming to an end after two years. Mr Osborne said it had been "ineffective" in increasing first-time buyer numbers.

In the Budget, the chancellor also announced that the level of stamp duty on residential properties over £2m which were bought via a company would increase to 15% with immediate effect.

In addition, overseas companies that already own UK residential property worth more than £2m will be subject to capital gains tax from April 2013.

Overall, the Land Registry said house prices in England and Wales rose by 0.1% in February compared with the previous month.

However, prices were down 0.6% compared with February 2010. The average home cost £161,588.

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