WILL THIS TINY TAX OF ½% OF LAND VALUE REALLY GIVE US LOWER HOUSE PRICES? HOW?
The whole point of going through all the political perils of dumping Stamp Duty and replacing it with a small LVT is to drive down House Prices. So will a bit of LVT do the trick, and if so How?
First of all, Stamp Duty (SDLT) will have been got rid of, totally. According to a report[i] from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, this alone will encourage 45,000 new peoperty-owners to put their houses on the market.
Another report[ii] says it is even more. Stamp Duty they say is squeezing between 8 and 20% of vendors out of the market. When about 1 million houses are bought and sold in the UK (that’s how many in recent years) abolition of Stamp Duty should result in between 80,000 and 200,000 more houses on the market! That’s the first payoff. More timid sellers, often last-time sellers, will be encouraged to put their houses on the market. This should help prices down a bit.
The spec housebuilders with their landbanks should get a one-off nudge too. Of course this new ½ % LVT should apply to their land with planning permission. It’s a small addition to the pressure for them to get on and build.
Having removed a bad tax which discourages market activity, let’s turn to the positive push factor of the new LVT. So Secondly with the introduction of (or even prospect of) a partial LVT, long-standing o-o's will be given a bit of a (financial) nudge to get a move on. Downsizing will definitely be encouraged.
LVT even at this small amount may energise the market a bit, but will house prices come down? Would such a switch from the hated one-off lump of Stamp Duty on house sales to a yearly levy of ½% on the Land Value have much effect on house prices?
Not at first If you believe the economists, the rational reaction of the house-buyer should be to calculate that 10% of the Land Value has been taxed away in perpetuity, so the "House Price" (in reality the building value + 90% of the Land Value) should be marked down.
But the economists are not just wrong, they are dangerously wrong (as HM the Queen realised back in 2008!). Real people amongst whom we can confidently include house-buyers) see things 'irrationally'. A long-term commitment to pay LVT is seen as irrelevant, something that can be dealt with later by rising salaries or even wins on the lottery. What matters is the here and now: how much more money can I bid for the house of my dreams/a bigger house than I first thought I could afford?
—So I'd say the paradoxical next effect of abolishing Stamp Duty (and sneaking in a ½ % LVT) would be to push house prices UP.
But quite soon (a year or two) the penny will drop The mortgage lenders, who should act ‘rationally’ will be well aware of the reduced 'equity' caused by partial LVT. If they don’t then maybe the regulators will enforce more prudence, and require the lenders to offer less by way of mortgage. Banks and building societies would be reckless not to do so, but has that ever acted as a restraint on their incontinent lending in the past?
Just like the way the leasehold market operates, the value of a percentage of the land has now to be paid over. In the case of this first LVT it 10% of the value of the land, and instead of the ground-landlord extracting it, LVT is paid over to the State to put to good use.
I’ve produced the evidence from the leasehold market that this really will reduce the selling price, right in line with the calculations of present value. LVT will cut prices, permanently.
[i] Centre for Economics and Business Research
[ii] BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY Why we should abolish Stamp Duty Land Tax By Ben Southwood. Adam Smith Institute Oct 2017 https://www.adamsmith.org/research/beyond-the-call-of-duty