When buying your first home you must sort through a huge amount of information about deposits, mortgage offers and all the extra costs associated with taking a loan from a bank or building society. Luckily, mortgage brokers like John Charcol are here to help.
We’ll guide you in the right direction and make sure you know what to expect as a first-time buyer. In fact, one main benefit we want you to bear in mind is: being a first-time buyer can save you money.
Alongside the specific mortgage products and lower rates on the market that are designed to help first-time buyers get onto the property ladder, there’s also the first-time buyer Stamp Duty exemption. We’ll go into all the details of what Stamp Duty is, how it's calculated and who’s eligible for the exemption.
The Topics Covered in this Article Are Listed Below:
- What Is Stamp Duty?
- What Stamp Duty Relief Is There for First-Time Buyers?
- Stamp Duty Calculator for First-Time Buyers
- Stamp Duty Calculation Examples
- Who Is a First-Time Buyer?
- Which Mortgages Allow You to Claim First-Time Buyer Stamp Duty Relief?
- How Can They Know Whether I Am a First-Time Buyer?
- What if I Lie About Being a First-Time Buyer?
- Can I Be a First-Time Buyer if I Inherited Property?
What Is Stamp Duty?
Stamp Duty – officially known as Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) – is a tax payable if you purchase property or land in England or Northern Ireland above a certain price. This is currently £125,000 regardless of the city you’re buying property in – even more expensive cities like London. In Scotland, Stamp Duty is known as Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. In Wales, it's known as Land Transaction Tax.
Learn more in our Stamp Duty video.
What Stamp Duty Relief Is There for First-Time Buyers?
If you’re a first-time buyer, you won't have to pay SDLT for properties valued at up to £300,000. If your property is worth between £300,000 and £500,000, you’ll pay no SDLT on the first £300,000 and only pay 5% on the portion between £300,000 and £500,000. If the property is worth more than £500,000, you won’t qualify for the exemption regardless of whether you’re a first-time buyer and will have to be Stamp Duty at the standard rates.
|Property Value||SDLT for FTBs 2022 - 2023|
|Up to £300,000||0%|
|£300,001 - £500,000||5%|
- You're a first-time buyer purchasing a property that costs £450,000
- You pay 5% of £150,000 (the amount above £300,000)
- You pay £7,500 in Stamp Duty
The standard rates for Stamp Duty – for non-first-time buyers – are as follows:
|Property Value||SDLT for FTBs 2022 - 2023|
|Up to £125,000||0%|
|£125,001 - £250,000||2%|
|£250,001 - £925,000||5%|
|£925,001 - £1,500,00||10%|
During the Covid-19 pandemic, a Stamp Duty holiday was introduced which raised the 0% threshold in 2 phases, in July 2020 and September 2021. This Covid-19 Stamp Duty holiday has now ended.
Purchasers pay Stamp Duty to the HMRC via your solicitor or conveyancer upon completion of the property transaction. You have 14 days from completion to do this.
One of the great advantages of being a first-time buyer is paying less Stamp Duty – unless you're spending more than £500,000. Saving enough money to put down a deposit and pay all the other costs associated with buying a property can be quite a challenge for first-time buyers. The Stamp Duty exemption is a way of helping first-time buyers grab their first rung on the property ladder. The criteria for being a first-time buyer are quite strict so it’s worth asking your mortgage adviser whether you qualify.
Stamp Duty Calculator for First-Time Buyers
Calculate Stamp Duty for first-time buyers with our calculator here.
Let us know the value of the residential property you’re buying to work out what you'll pay in Stamp Duty.
Once you know how much Stamp Duty you’ll be paying, speak to our experts and we’ll help you compare 1000s of mortgage deal from across the market to assess what your next steps are.
Stamp Duty Calculation Examples
If you want to make Stamp Duty calculations simple, use our first-time buyer Stamp Duty calculator above or take a look at our SDLT calculator if you’re buying a property worth over £500,000. You can use these calculators to work out how much Stamp Duty you’ll have to pay.
If you want to know more about how it works, see the examples below:
- You’re a first-time buyer purchasing a property for £200,000
- How much Stamp Duty do you pay?
- The answer is nothing. That’s right, any property under £300,000 is subject to 0% SDLT for first-time buyers
- You’re a first-time buyer purchasing a property for £420,000
- How much Stamp Duty do you pay here?
- As a first-time buyer, you'll pay no SDLT on the first £300,000
- You'll pay Stamp Duty at the standard rate of 5% on the remaining, which is £6,000
- You’re buying your first home for £950,000
- You won’t qualify for the first-time buyer Stamp Duty exemption as this is worth more than £500,000
- Therefore you’ll pay according to the standard rates:
- 0% on the first £125,000 = £0
- 2% on £125,000 = £2,500
- 5% on £675,000 = £33,750
- 10% on £25,000 = £2,500
- Total = £38,750
Who Is a First-Time Buyer?
The HMRC is the UK tax authority and it has a specific definition of a first-time buyer. In a guide that was published in 2017, it stated: “A first-time buyer is defined as an individual or individuals who have never owned an interest in a residential property in the United Kingdom or anywhere else in the world and who intends to occupy the property as their main residence.”
If you want to qualify for first-time buyer Stamp Duty relief, it's essential to understand this definition. The "interest” in a property here is considered to be any direct equity stake in a property – whether freehold or leasehold. This applies even if the amount of equity held was tiny. If you were on the title deeds, then you’ve owned an interest even if the property was in another country.
However, if you’ve only been an owner of any property indirectly – such as through a real estate investment fund or via a limited company – then you may still qualify as a first-time buyer as you wouldn’t be on the title deeds in your personal name.
There’s also the exception regarding previous ownership of a property subject to a lease that was only 21 years or less. The tax authority sees this as a short lease and so irrelevant. If you owned a property with a short lease you may be able to potentially re-enter the housing market as a first-time buyer. It’s best to speak to your conveyancer or a tax adviser to see if you could qualify.
You must make a declaration during the house purchase process that you’re a first-time buyer. The conveyancer or solicitor acting on your behalf will ask you to complete the first-time buyer declaration form. Generally speaking, you're not considered to be a first-time buyer until stated so on this form.
If you’ve ever owned a property, or land that can be used for residential purposes, then there will be a record with the Land Registry. Checking this is quite easy.
Time also makes no difference. Whether you owned a property decades ago, you bought one with a person you’re now divorced from or the property no longer exists, you still count as a previous property owner.
Which Mortgages Allow You to Claim First-Time Buyer Stamp Duty Relief?
If you meet the definition of a first-time buyer, you'll need to be aware of the eligibility criteria that are associated with different FTB mortgage deals that may still prevent you from qualifying for the Stamp Duty exemption.
- Joint mortgage - if you’re planning on taking out a joint mortgage, you can still be eligible for the Stamp Duty exemption. However, both of you will have to meet the definition of a first-time buyer
- Guarantor – You can qualify for the Stamp Duty exemption if you go the guarantor mortgage route. It doesn’t matter whether your guarantor owns their own property as they won’t go on the title deeds to yours. This is also true with the more commonly used joint borrower sole proprietor arrangement
- Shared ownership – you only need to pay Stamp Duty on the share of the property you're buying. If the portion of the property you own is valued below the Stamp Duty threshold for first-time buyers - which is £300,000 – you’ll qualify for the exemption
- Gifted deposit mortgage – if you're putting up a gifted deposit and the person offering the gift doesn’t share in the ownership of the property, you’re still eligible for Stamp Duty exemption as a first-time buyer
- Help to Buy – first-time buyers using Help to Buy mortgage schemes are also eligible for the SDLT exemption
How Can They Know Whether I Am a First-Time Buyer?
To qualify for the first-time buyer Stamp Duty exemption, you must declare during the property transaction that this is the first property you have ever owned. The solicitor or conveyancer you've engaged will request that you complete a first-time buyer declaration form. It's generally assumed that you aren't a first-time buyer until it's stated that you are by completing this form.
There are plenty of ways the Government can make checks to certify that you are a first-time buyer so it’s important you’re honest throughout the process. Any property or residential land you've ever owned will be noted with the Land Registry and this is relatively easy to investigate.
HMRC also has agreements with a variety of tax authorities in a number of other jurisdictions, so they’ll be able to find out if you’ve owned a property in another country.
Even if you owned property many years or even decades ago, this will still disqualify you as a first-time buyer.
What if I Lie About Being a First-Time Buyer?
There could be serious consequences if you lie about being a first-time buyer. Making a false declaration to HMRC is considered tax evasion, which could mean it's possible you’ll lose your home and maybe other assets. You may also acquire a criminal record.
HMRC has access to Land Registry and the SLDT databases. HMRC can also demand to see and assess bank statements and your credit reports. If they decide to proceed with an investigation, it’s fair to assume that they'll discover if you’ve previously owned property before, whether in part or in full.
HMRC has information-sharing arrangements abroad too, so it's unlikely that you'll be able to hide previous or present property ownership in other countries either.
Can I Be a First-Time Buyer if I Inherited Property?
Inheriting property also matters when you want to qualify as a first-time buyer. If you inherited land or property from a relative, you won't be able to declare that you're a first-time buyer. This is also the case if you were gifted property or if someone else purchased a property and added you to the title deeds. One main exception which would still allow you to qualify as a first-time buyer is if you inherited property that was not residential or was mixed-use without any type of dwelling.
Many buyers make the common mistake of thinking that because they haven't actually purchased a property, they could still qualify as a first-time buyer. To be a first-time buyer, you must not have owned residential property before - i.e. you must not have been on the title deeds as an owner – regardless of whether you bought it yourself or not.
For any tax advice about inheritance, speak to a tax adviser about the different options.