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Misleading Land Registry House Price Reports

 

Although widely touted as being the most reliable data, because it is based on actual sale prices; the Land Registry monthly house price report is badly under-estimated.  This is because it does not include the sales of new-build homes.  If you want to see the data for all residential property sold you must refer to the Land Registry’s quarterly report – a privilege that you will, rather annoyingly, pay for.
The last monthly report of 2012 said that the average price paid for a property in England and Wales was £162,080, but the last quarterly report put the figure at a much higher level - £249,958.  That’s an increase of around 35%.
Description: Quarterly figures: The Land Registry average house price data show how prices are teetering on the £250K mark
Quarterly Land Registry Data: House Selling Prices by Year
The cynics amongst us would question as to whether this under-valuation is somewhat convenient.  Bearing the quarterly figure (that averages almost £250,000) in mind, it starts to become significant when looking at stamp duty levels.  Homes purchased above £250,000 command triple the level of stamp duty on those priced between £125,000 and £250,000, as shown in the HM Revenue & Customs table below.  The quarterly figure is almost at that second threshold and would mean house buyers stumping up a minimum of £7,500 in stamp duty, as opposed to a maximum of £2,500 on the lower level.  This could potentially push a property out of reach for a potential buyer, or reduce equity enough to negate a good mortgage deal.


Purchase price/lease premium or transfer value

SDLT rate

Up to £125,000

Zero

Over £125,000 to £250,000

1%

Over £250,000 to £500,000

3%

Over £500,000 to £1 million

4%

Over £1 million to £2 million

5%

Over £2 million from 22 March 2012

7%

Stamp Duty Levels as shown on the Revenue & Customs Website
When stamp duty was introduced for properties sold at £250,000 in 1997 by Gordon Brown, that Land Registry quarterly house price figure was a third of what it is now.  If stamp duty thresholds had risen at the same rate as house prices, the second (3%) stamp duty threshold would stand at £750,000.  It could be argued that by being greedy and failing to take house price inflation into account when deciding stamp duty levels, successive Governments have played their part in depressing the housing market; transaction levels are down 33% since 1997. 
For those who have no intention of paying for the Land Registry’s quarterly report, the BBC publishes a summary of it at the following link:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/uk_house_prices/html/houses.stm.
Sources: thisismoney.co.uk, hmrc.gov.uk, bbc.co.uk