£5m paid in Stamp Duty by Plymouth Residents

“A pound saved is worth two pounds earned . . . after taxes” is what my Grandfather used to say. He loved his irony, yet was always a wise man, and it is tax I want to talk about today, in particular, property taxation… Stamp Duty in fact.

Apart from some minor exemptions, Stamp Duty is paid by anyone buying a property over £125,000 in the UK. It presently raises £10.68bn a year for the HM Treasury (interesting when compared with £27.6bn in fuel duty, £10.69bn in alcohol duty and £9.48bn in tobacco duty). In the latest set of data from HMRC, in the MP constituencies that cover Plymouth, property buyers paid £5m stamp duty in one year alone – a lot of money in anyone’s eyes (although not as much as the £250m in income tax that all of us in the same area paid last year).

However, as you may know, George Osborne introduced an additional tax for landlords and from 1st April 2016 they had to pay an additional 3% stamp duty surcharge on top of the normal stamp duty rate when purchasing a buy to let property. There were tales of woe and Armageddon with a report by Deutsche Bank suggesting that the new surcharge could see house prices fall by as much as 20%. HMRC data released in the Summer for Quarter 2 (Q2) of 2016 did seem to back up those fears as they published some worrying figures; only one in seven properties purchased was a second home or buy-to-let (in real numbers, only 30,300 of the 207,900 properties in Q2 were bought by landlords).

In previous articles, I spoke about the slump of property transactions after the 1st of April (as landlords rushed through their property purchases in March to beat the April deadline). In Q2 of 2016, £1.976bn was raised in Stamp Duty from Residential Property. Of that £1.976bn, £652m was paid by buy to let landlords (£424m in normal stamp duty and £228m in the additional 3% surcharge).

However, looking at Q3, the numbers have improved significantly. Of the 235,000 property sales, nearly one in four of them (56,100 to be precise) were bought by buy to let landlords and of the £2.208bn in stamp duty, £864m was paid in ‘normal’ stamp duty by BTL landlords and an impressive £442m paid by those same landlords in the additional stamp duty surcharge. The statistics suggest buy to let investors have thankfully not been deterred by the stamp duty surcharge introduced in April this year. The figures also show that 65.4% of “buy to let” purchases cost less than £250,000, 23.7% of properties were in the £250k to £500k range and 10.9% (or 6,100 additional properties) of buy to let properties bought cost over £500k – interestingly nearly one in four (22.2%) of £500k properties purchased in Q3 were buy to let properties.

All this backs up what I stated a few weeks ago when I suggested that many investors had rushed to make purchases before 31st March, making figures in the following months (Q2) artificially low when the 3% supplement was introduced, but in Q3 the number of buy to let properties purchased increased by 85%. It also goes to show you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspapers! I can assure you the Plymouth property market is doing just fine. For more thoughts on the Plymouth Property Market like this visit our Mansbridge Balment blog at http://www.plymouthpropertynews.wordpress.com


  1. Stats relate to Member of Parliament Constituency totals.
  2. National Stats from Office of National Stats.

Donald Trump can help sell your Plymouth home!

It’s not something you’d think to read from a local estate agent in Plymouth but as I write this blog, Donald Trump has stormed to victory and become President elect of The U.S.A.

Whilst we all have time to calm down and whether you agree with his opinions and sometimes controversial views or not, you have to acknowledge the fact that ‘Brand Trump’ has been successful and the marketing has enabled him to stay in the public eye throughout his winning campaign.

Whether his eventual ‘win’ was helped by an anti – establishment vote or not, for me, as a marketeer, Trumps success has been based on 4 key principles, many which draw comparisons when successfully marketing a property…

  1. Look at things differently.

Trump looked at the way others had decided to market themselves and like forward thinking estate agents, decided to stop doing what every other candidate (agent) was doing in order to succeed.

Following the masses is a perfect formula for failure. For far too long, too many agents have been doing the same old thing to sell property – whether it’s how an agent advertises, where they advertise or what hours they work, times are a changing so make sure from the outset you choose an agent that ‘offers that little bit extra’.

  1. Attract your voter (buyer) by appealing directly to their needs.

Once you learn that trying to appeal to all buyers and sellers in the market often just wastes time and that focused, individual marketing gets results…everything changes.

Trump was able to specifically tailor his own message directly to match a specific demographic of people. As a seller if you can quickly connect with the type of buyer that will be interested in purchasing (typically the same type with the same reasons to purchase as when you bought the property in the first place), you will attract the right type of buyer – and faster than your competition on the market.

  1. Don’t be scared to listen to advice.

Even the most, shall we say, determined of minds needs to listen to advice along the way. Feedback from a trusted, licensed Estate Agent offering their own advice and feedback from viewers should never be dismissed out of hand. As human beings there are all types of lies we can tell ourselves to stay within our current comfort zones and this is often the case when selling property. Sometimes the best thing to do is to listen to the masses and not just your own opinion. If we fail to consider advice we keep doing more and more of the things that don’t work, instead of changing for the better.


  1. Stay positive, trust in the sales process and learn from your mistakes (& others).

Finally, like Trump you can look to and receive helpful advice along the way. Whenever we do something new, it takes time and practice to master it (Selling your home is not something you do every day after all). There are times when you will have to try out a few different variations of marketing in order to find what works for your property in order to get the best response.

Do not allow yourself to experience a sense of defeat when something doesn’t go your way. Stay positive if you get negative feedback and do your best to rectify any reason why people wouldn’t want to purchase, (as mentioned just previously).

Use other property on the market as a gauge. If a similar property has been on the market for 5 + weeks and is failing to get viewings then don’t let them steal your thunder – price your property accordingly to obtain the maximum interest from the outset. Unless their agent is completely useless it will be overpriced (the public’s lack of interest has invariably showed this). Think clearly about the process and make a non-emotional call early on regarding price.

Whatever happens in The U.S.A and indeed the World from this point on, when it comes to selling property one thing is certain – property keeps on selling and people keep on moving – just make sure YOUR property ‘Trumps’ the competition.

Not marketing at the ‘right’ price can cost you dear

Many times in this blog, myself and my colleagues have muted about the sensitivity of the housing market and in particular how important it is to gauge the right asking price from the outset. As the 2016 Plymouth housing market comes to a close it is perhaps more important than ever to be realistic on asking prices. What is an asking price after all? It’s a price that the buying public will feel is ‘right’ based on similar properties that have sold in the surrounding areas (yes that is absolutely how estate agents should value too) but what happens when an agent takes on a property at a price higher than the market dictates?

Working for one of the leading estate agents in Plymouth I am fortunate enough to visit a lot of property on the market with other agents. We are often called to give our opinion on why a property isn’t selling and what we would do to change things. If the vendor had perhaps chosen Mansbridge Balment in the first instance then they would’ve known that our job is not only to list property but to advise on the way forward to achieve a sale.

Aside from obvious description changes and perhaps better photography and coverage, inaccurate pricing is the main reason that properties do not sell. It may come as a surprise to some vendors when I say that, in my experience, properties that go onto the market at a price that is 10% higher than the comparable Sold properties suggest it should, tend to achieve lower sold prices than those that come onto the market at the ‘right’ price in the first place.

Yes, I said it. Get the pricing wrong first time around and it will not sell at anywhere near an over realistic expectation. Although pricing can sometimes be a little organic for those properties that are truly individual, our experience in selling homes ‘second / third / fourth time around’ shows this to be the case as a general rule.

There are always exceptions and some people will view properties in a market that is short on new listings regardless of whether they think the price is over-inflated but these are few and far between. These are typically the people who ‘need to find urgently’ and who offer at a vastly reduced amount. Again, it may come as a shock to know that in many instances this may be the right offer that many owners should consider, but because it is perhaps 15% under the asking price (the over inflated asking price), it is dismissed out of hand.

If I had a pound for every time I’d spoken to a vendor on the market with another agent who had one of these early offers but ruefully dismissed it, I certainly wouldn’t be writing this – I’d be reading it on-line on some sunny shore!

Even if the asking price is reduced over time to levels that seem ‘right’, its length of time For Sale on the market, coupled with its price reductions then serve to make the property seem like the last tin of discounted beans on the shelf – there must be something wrong with it, right?

Perhaps the original agent had been under pressure for a listing and over-inflated the price in order to get it onto the company’s books? Or perhaps an agent decided to ‘try’ the property at a higher price because of the vendors wishes? Whatever the reason, the chances are that ultimately the public will have their say by the lack of viewings.

I spoke to a new vendor last week as she had obtained a real mix in valuations and had discounted many, shall we say ‘over optimistic’ figures, in order to go onto the market at an asking price that would get viewings and ultimately offers.

And there you have it. What is the point of an asking price? To get people through the door so they can decide whether the property is the right property for them and to get them to offer.

Don’t make the same mistake if you are considering selling and do the ‘right’ thing by asking the ‘right price’ or it could cost you dear!

House Prices in Plymouth rise by 7% in the last 18 months

Over the last month, the Plymouth property market has seen some interesting movement in house prices, as property values in the Plymouth City Council area rose by 0.6% in the last month, to leave annual price growth at 4.8%. These don’t compare as well against the national figures, where property prices across the UK saw a monthly uplift of 0.42%, leaving the annual property values across the country 8.3% higher. This might be down to the constraining factors of Stamp Duty changes in the spring and more recently our friend Brexit, however, it does mean there might be some bargains out there for landlords and homebuyers alike.

Looking at the figures for the last 18 months makes even more fascinating reading, whereby house prices are 7.0% higher, again thought provoking when compared to the national average figure of 13.6% higher.

However, it gets more remarkable when we look at how the different sectors of the Plymouth market are performing. Over the last 18 months, in the Plymouth City Council area, the best performing type of property was the detached, which outperformed the area average by 0.93% whilst the worst performing type was the apartment, which under-performed the area average by 1.18%.

Now the difference doesn’t sound that much, but remember two things, this is only over eighteen months and the gap of 2.1% (the difference between the detached at +0.93% and apartments at -1.18%) converts into a few thousand pounds disparity, when you consider the average price paid for a detached property in Plymouth itself over the last 12 months was £316,200 and the average price paid for a Plymouth apartment was £136,200 over the same time frame.

I know all the Plymouth landlords and homeowners will want to know how each of the property types have performed, so this is what has happened to property prices over the last 18 months in the area…


  • Overall Average          +7.0%
  • Detached                     +8.0%
  • Semi Detached            +7.7%
  • Terraced                     +6.9%
  • Apartments                 +5.8%


So what does all this mean to Plymouth homeowners and Plymouth landlords and what does the future hold? 

When I looked at the month-by-month figures for the area, you can quite clearly see there is a slight tempering of the Plymouth property market over these last few months. I have mentioned in previous articles that the number of properties on the market in Plymouth has increased this summer, something that hasn’t happened since 2008. Greater choice for buyers means, using simple supply and demand economics, that top prices won’t be achieved on every Plymouth property. You see, some of that growth in Plymouth property values throughout early 2016 may have come about because of a surge in house purchase activity, an indirect result of the increase in stamp duty on second homes from April, thus providing a temporary boost to prices.

However, it may be possible the recent pattern of robust employment growth, growing real earnings and low borrowing costs will tilt the demand/supply seesaw in favour of sellers and exert upward pressure on prices once again in the quarters ahead.

…And Plymouth property values, assuming that everything goes well with Brexit, I believe in twelve months’ time we should see values in the order of 2% to 3% higher.

The 22,643 Plymouth Savers batten down the hatches with low interest rates set to continue into the 2020’s

You might ask, what has the plight of the Plymouth savers to do with the Plymouth Property Market … everything in fact.  Read the newspapers, and every financial wizard is stating that with the decision of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee in early August to cut the Bank of England base rate to an all-time low of 0.25 per cent, savers should prepare themselves for interest rates to stay low well into the early 2020’s.


… And this isn’t some made up story to capture the headlines of newspaper editors. The yield (interest rate or return) on 10-year Government bonds is currently at time of writing 0.61 per cent. This indicates that the money markets believe that the Bank of England’s base rate will, on average over the next ten years, be below the 0.61% rate they are buying the 10 year bonds at (because they would lose money if the average was over 0.61%). UK Interest rates are going to be low for a long time.

For those who have saved throughout their working lives and are looking for ways to maximize their savings, tying their money into property could prove advantageous. You see as a saver, I did a search of the internet and the best savings rate I could find was a 5 year fixed rate at 2.5% a year. On this basis your £200,000 nest egg would earn you £5,000 a year – not much. However, on the other side of the fence, growth in Plymouth house prices and princely buy to let yields have made property investment in Plymouth an appealing option for many. According to my research, the…


Average Yield over the last five years for

Plymouth Buy to let property has been 4.5% a year

… and average Property Values in over the same period have risen by 17.1%.


Using these averages, the Plymouth landlord’s property would be worth £224,200 and they would have received a total of £45,000 in rent – making the total return £269,200. Meanwhile, whilst our 22,643 Plymouth Saver’s, using the average savings rates for the last 5 years, even if they had reinvested the interest, their £200,000 would only be £221,184.

There are risks as well as benefits to buy to let though. As followers of our articles know, at Mansbridge Balment we tell it like it is and investing in buy to let means locking up capital in a property that may fall in value. Another option would be stock market income based investment funds, which are paying around 5%, especially if put your nest egg into a tax free Stocks and Shares ISA. Although you can only add £15,240 a year into an ISA, but you would also have the ability to sell up quickly if you want … but one last thought…

The other side of the coin is that you cannot buy an unloved ‘stock market income based investment fund’ and set about renovating it and adding value yourself. The investment fund isn’t something that you can touch and feel, isn’t something tangible, isn’t something physical, isn’t something concrete, it isn’t bricks and mortar … and that is why for many Plymouth homeowners and landlords the British love affair of investing in Property will continue.

For more Plymouth Property Market related articles please visit www.plymouthpropertynews.wordpress.com or call one of our two Plymouth offices today on 01752 229292 / 791333.


  • Scottish Widows Savings Survey 2014 – 12% of the population have £50k or more in Savings ie ideal BTL landlords. 55% of population have between £1 and £50k – but most of those 55% savings were under £1000… so the figure in the headline is 12% of your Adult population of your town/city. I specifically removed Children from the figures
  • Later in the article I have assumed a nest egg of £200,000
  • Average Yield using the Lend Invest Index for your postcode area
  • Growth % in 5 years using the Zoopla AVM model
  • £200,000 would only be £221,184 – figures using average Building Society rates since 2011

What will the 0.25% Interest Rate do to the Plymouth Property Market?

I had an interesting chat with an Eggbuckland landlord who owns a few properties in the city. He popped his head in to my office as his wife was shopping in Tesco next to us (and let’s be honest talking about the Plymouth Property Market is a lot more interesting than shopping!). After reading our blog on the Plymouth Property Market for awhile, the landlord wanted to know my thoughts on how the recent interest rate cut would affect the Plymouth property market and I would also like to share these thoughts with you……

It’s been a few weeks now since interest rates were cut to 0.25% by the Bank of England as the Bank believed Brexit could lead to a materially lower path of growth for the UK, especially for the manufacturing and construction industries. You see for the country as a whole, the manufacturing and construction industries are still performing well below the pre credit crunch levels of 2008/09, so the British economy remains highly susceptible to an economic shock. This is especially important in Plymouth, because even though we have had a number of local success stories in manufacturing and construction, a large number of people are employed in these sectors. In Plymouth, of the 108,058 people who have a job, 10,758 are in the manufacturing industry and 7,965 in Construction meaning

10% of Plymouth workers are employed in the Manufacturing

sector and 7.4% of Plymouth workers are in Construction

The other sector of the economy the Bank is worried about, and an equally important one to the Plymouth economy, is the Financial Services industry. Financial Services in Plymouth employ 2,076 people, making up 1.9% of the Plymouth working population.

Together with a cut in interest rates, the Bank also announced an increase in the quantity of money via a new programme of Quantitative Easing to buy £70bn of Government and Private bonds. Now that won’t do much to the Plymouth property market directly, but another measure also included in the recent announcement was £100bn of new funding to banks. This extra £100bn will help the High St banks pass on the base rate cut to people and businesses, meaning the banks will have lots of cheap money to lend for mortgages .. which will have a huge effect on the Plymouth property market (as that £100bn would be enough to buy half a million homes in the UK).

It will take until early in the New Year to find out the real direction of the Plymouth property market and the effects of Brexit on the economy as a whole, the subsequent recent interest rate cuts and the availability of cheap mortgages. However, something bigger than Brexit and interest rates is the inherent undersupply of housing (something I have spoken about many times in my blog and the specific affect on Plymouth). The severe undersupply means that Plymouth property prices are likely to increase further in the medium to long term, even if there is a dip in the short term. This only confirms what every homeowner and landlord has known for decades… investing in property is a long term project and as an investment vehicle, it will continue to outstrip other forms of investment due to the high demand for a roof over people’s heads and the low supply of new properties being built.

  1. Numbers relating to the people working are based on the 2011 census
  2. Half million houses is £100bn divided by the average value of a UK property at £260,000 and assuming a £200k mortgage

New House Building in Plymouth slumps by 12.2% in the last year

Even with Brexit and the fact immigration numbers will now be reduced in the coming years, there is an unending and severe shortage of new housing being built in the Plymouth area (and the UK as a whole). Even if there are short term confidence trembles fueled by newspapers hungry for bad news, the ever growing population of Plymouth with its high demand for property versus curtailed supply of properties being built, this imbalance of supply/demand and the possibility of even lower interest rates will underpin the property market.

When the Conservatives were elected in 2015, Mr. Cameron vowed to build 1,000,000 new homes by 2020. If we as a Country hit those levels of building, most academics stated the UK Housing market would balance itself as the increased supply of property would give a chance for the younger generation to buy their own home as opposed to rent. However, the up-to-date building figures show that in the first three months of 2016 building starts were down. Nationally, there were 35,530 house building starts in the first quarter, a long way off the 50,000 a quarter required to hit those ambitious targets.

Looking closer to home, over the last 12 months, new building in the Plymouth City Council area has slumped. In 2014/15, for every one thousand existing households in the area, an additional 6.04 homes were built. For 2015/16, that figure is now only 5.3 homes built per thousand existing households. Nationally, to meet that 1,000,000 new homes target, we need to be at 7.12 new homes per thousand.

To put those numbers into real chimney pots, over the last 12 months, in the Plymouth City Council area,

  • 450 Private Builders (e.g. New Homes Builders)
  • 90 Housing Association
  • 50 Local Authority

These new house building numbers are down to the fact that not enough is being done to fix the broken Plymouth housing market. We are still only seeing 590 new homes being built per year in the Plymouth City Council area, when we need 793 a year to even stand still!

I am of the opinion Messer’s Cameron and Osborne focused their attention too much on the demand side of the housing equation, using the Help to Buy scheme and low deposit mortgages to convert the ‘Generation Rent’ i.e. Plymouth ‘20 somethings’ who are set to rent for the rest of their lives to ‘Generation Buy’. On the other side of the coin, I would strongly recommend the new Housing Minster, Gavin Barwell, should concentrate the Government’s efforts on the supply side of the equation. There needs to be transformations to planning laws, massive scale releases of public land and more investment, as more inventive solutions are needed.

However, ultimately, responsibility has to rest on the shoulders of Theresa May. Whilst our new PM has many plates to spin, evading on the housing crisis will only come at greater cost later on. What a legacy it would be if it was Mrs. May who finally got to grips with the persistent and enduring shortage of homes to live in. The PM has already referenced the ‘need to do far more to get more houses built’ and stop the decline of home ownership. However, she has also ruled out any changes to the green belt policy – something I will talk about in a future up and coming article. Hopefully these statistics will raise the alarm bells again and persuade both residents and Councilor’s in the Plymouth City Council area that housing needs to be higher on its agenda.