A TEMPORARY move to abolish stamp duty on properties up to £500,000 has been hailed as a “real positive message” for Colchester’s recovering housing market.

From July 15 until March 31 next year, buyers will pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of their purchase when they move to buy a new home.

Jack Adams, of Colchester-based mortgage brokers We Are Mortgages, said the move would encourage people back into the housing market.

“Stamp duty is often one of the largest costs in the whole house-buying process, and one of the biggest things which makes it difficult for people to move,” he said.

“It leads to people putting in lower offers as they don’t have much equity to play with.

“This move will be welcomed by every single estate agency and mortgage broker.”

Mr Adams said the housing market is “slowly but surely” returning to levels of demand seen before the coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Smith, chief executive of estate agency group Spicerhaart, said his firm would now need to hire “at least” 18 new members of staff at its Colchester call centre to handle inquiries.

“We know from previous housing market support packages that it will increase call volumes massively,” he said.

“We’re dealing with around 5,000 inquiries a day in our call centre – we’re expecting this to double as people who are planning on moving in the next two years will now bring this forward to take advantage of significant stamp duty savings.

“This can be as much as £15,000 in some parts of the country, such as London.

“We’re also pleased to see the additional support given to apprentices and we’ll be looking to take more people on across different departments, who will be given training through our different academy schemes.”

“The Chancellor has set out to create and protect jobs and get the country back on its feet quickly, given the coronavirus situation.

“He said he wants everyone who wants to work to have the opportunity to work.

“I think this is a great statement for the people of Colchester and North Essex.”

John Beton, director of Colchester estate agents David Martin Group, welcomed the stamp duty holiday as a “huge benefit” to the sector.

He said: “We are seeing prices remain strong in Colchester, as always, we are fortunate to have a microclimate here that’s rarely affected by the economic fluctuations due to its commuter belt and value for money.

“Colchester and surrounding areas are highly desirable and will remain so with the council’s future plans for it.

“More outer London buyers are identifying this, resulting in high levels of enquires and retaining high demand.”