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Fewer buyers than expected helped by stamp duty holiday

The Government's stamp-duty holiday on properties sold for less than £175,000 has not helped nearly as many homeowners as first predicted.

Figures obtained by property website zoopla.co.uk show that in the first 12 months of the holiday, until 1 September, buyers saved just £173m compared with the £600m predicted by the Government.

A combination of factors lies behind the disparity. First-time buyers – the most likely to benefit from the holiday – have found it hard to get mortgages due to tight lending criteria.

Transaction levels have also been lower than normal across the whole market with a shortage of properties to buy.

What's more, prices have risen in recent months, taking more transactions above the £175,000 threshold.

The stamp-duty holiday ends in January, but despite its limited success, Nicholas Leeming from zoopla.co.uk is one of many property professionals calling for it to be extended and made more generous.

"The stamp-duty holiday has so far failed to reinvigorate the housing market," he says. "Rather than ending it, the Government should consider extending it by making first-time buyers permanently exempt and by giving others the ability to defer payment for up to, say, five years."