The Dead Zone

My house is entering the Dead Zone.

It conjures up images of that scene from ‘Beteljuice’, where the guys don’t know they’re dead yet and when they try to leave their house they discover it’s been transplanted to a nightmarish landscape of shifting sands and dune-surfing monsters. But the Dead Zone of the British property market is very real, thanks to a quirk of property law that distorts the whole market.

In the UK, no house is ever on the market for between £250K and £280K. Because at £250K, the stamp duty payable when you buy a house rises from 1% to 3%. On. The. Whole. Amount. The fact that people are required to pay this amount at a time when they’re stretched anyway with moving costs means there’s no market for properties in this dead zone, because the sum is only worth forking out if the building is worth £280K or more. And it seems from a recent estate agent’s visit that my tiny three-storey townhouse (yes, that’s all a quarter mill buys in London) is now in The Dead Zone. Until the market rises at least another 15% (possibly years away) I’m absolutely limited in the asking price. So I think I’ll sell up now, and leapfrog the Zone. Thinking of developing a big scruffy townhouse with a pal; I don’t have a cat, but it’d be nice to have room to swing one…

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