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The top locations where you can avoid paying stamp duty

If you're a home mover looking to save money, buying a property under the stamp duty threshold could save you thousands. Here's where to find the most homes under £250,000.

Words by: Izabella Lubowiecka

Senior Property Researcher

Stamp duty land tax - or SDLT - is the tax you pay when you buy property or land over a certain price in England and Northern Ireland. 

Scotland and Wales also have an equivalent tax but different rates apply. 

In England and Northern Ireland, no tax is paid if a property is priced below £250,000 and you are an existing homeowner. 

In Scotland, no tax is paid on properties priced at £145,000 or less.

And in Wales, no tax is paid on properties priced at £225,000 or less.

Different thresholds apply for first-time buyers, who can buy a property up to £425,000 without paying the tax in England and Northern Ireland or up to £175,000 in Scotland.

In Wales, there isn't any first-time buyer stamp duty relief.

The top locations where first-time buyers can avoid paying stamp duty

Those buying a home that won’t be their primary residence will pay an additional 3% surcharge on the entire price of the property. 

And buyers from overseas will pay an additional 2% surcharge.

Learn more about stamp duty and the different rates you need to pay

Stamp duty calculator

How much stamp duty will you need to pay? Let our calculator do the maths. Here's how stamp duty works.

In this article, we explore locations with the largest proportion of homes that would not incur stamp duty tax for homeowners, to help those looking to upsize or downsize to decide where to move next and save money. 

Stamp duty rates for first-time buyers

Why is it important to know about stamp duty before buying? 

A stamp duty bill can be a small or run into tens of thousands of pounds for high value properties. And where you are looking to buy can also affect the amount you pay. 

Here's what an existing homeowner would pay in stamp duty for the average-priced UK home (£265,000) cross the UK. 

Stamp duty paid on a £265,000 property in the UK

  • £745 in England and Northern Ireland

  • £2,850 in Scotland

  • And £2,400 in Wales

Right now, nearly 1 in 3 (31%) properties listed on Zoopla are priced below the local stamp duty threshold for homeowners. This translates to over 140,000 homes that are available to buy without incurring a tax bill.

Where can homeowners find a home without paying stamp duty?

The percentage of homes under the stamp duty threshold across the UK

Region/CountryAvg house priceProportion of homes for sale below stamp duty thresholdNo. of homes for sale on Zoopla below threshold
North East£139,70076%9,500
Yorkshire & The Humber£185,40057%17,200
North West£193,50057%23,100
West Midlands£228,70046%15,100
East Midlands£229,00045%14,600
South West£316,10029%13,000
East of England£340,20023%11,800
South East£388,90020%16,700

Our historical analysis shows that 60% of all stamp duty receipts are paid in the South East and London. 

This is down to homes in the south being priced at a higher level than those elsewhere in the country, so finding a home below the tax threshold will be harder here. 

Only 1 in 6 homes listed for sale on Zoopla in southern England is priced below the stamp duty threshold of £250,000.

In the Midlands, close to a half of homes listed for sale would be under the threshold.

Meanwhile, in the North of England, where homes are among the most affordable in the UK, we find that 3 in 5 homes could be bought without paying the tax. 

This increases to three-quarters in the North East specifically, where the average house price is below £140,000. 

In Scotland and Wales, where the stamp duty tax  is different to that in England, we find 35% and 43% of homes don’t qualify for tax if bought by an existing homeowner. 

Why buying a home in Scotland is different to in England and Wales

This is because the threshold for exemption is lower.

In Scotland, the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax threshold kicks in at £145,000, which is below the average house price for the region.

In Wales, the Land Transaction Tax begins at £225,000, which is above the average property price of £204,200, meaning more than 2 in 5 homes are exempt from the tax.

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Regional towns have the highest number of homes under the SDLT threshold

The availability of homes exempt from stamp duty varies and is closely linked to the house prices in a given area. This creates differences in the availability of tax-exempt homes within regions too. 

We find the largest spread of property values in Yorkshire and the Humber: currently only 21% of homes on the market in York are under the £250,000 threshold - yet  89% of homes up for sale in Hull are priced below £250,000. 

We register a similar spread in Wales, where 13% of homes for sale in Monmouthshire sit below the £225,000 LTT threshold, while 78% of homes on the market in Blaenau Gwent are priced below £225,000.

Across the UK as a whole, the largest proportion of homes exempt from stamp duty can be found in the regional towns of northern England.

When it comes to local authorities, Hull has the largest proportion of stamp duty-exempt homes on the market for existing homeowners, with 89% of properties currently priced below the £250,000 threshold.

Hull is closely followed by Blackpool, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, where 87% of homes would not be subject to any stamp duty land tax. 

All of these areas are either the cheapest - or among the cheapest - areas to buy within their respective regions, with average house prices below £125,000.

Looking beyond northern England, where average house prices exceed £200,000, homes that would avoid a stamp duty bill are less common, but not impossible to find. 

Nearly 4 in 5 properties are exempt from stamp duty in Stoke-on-Trent, which is the highest proportion anywhere in the Midlands.

Plymouth is the winner in the South, with just over half of homes on the market below the homeowners’ stamp duty threshold. 

Where to find homes exempt from stamp duty across the UK

RegionLA with highest proportion of homes under SDLT threshold% of homes for saleAvg house price
Yorkshire & The HumberHull89%£113,200
North WestBlackpool87%£122,800
North EastMiddlesborough87%£114,100
WalesBlaenau Gwent79%£127,800
West MidlandsStoke-on-Trent78%£132,600
East MidlandsBoston67%£178,200
ScotlandWest Dunbartonshire59%£109,100
South WestPlymouth53%£201,200
East of EnglandNorwich50%£228,500
South EastSouthampton46%£223,100
LondonBarking & Dagenham22%£334,100

The areas where it's harder to avoid stamp duty

Most stamp duty payments come from the south of the UK.

With the highest house prices anywhere in the country, it comes as no surprise that London has the fewest homes that could be bought without incurring a stamp duty bill. 

Only 1 in 20 homes listed for sale in the capital would qualify for an exemption and in October this year, only 4,000 homes in the capital were marketed below the £250,000 threshold. 

Half of them were concentrated in 8 boroughs on the edges of London: Croydon, Hillingdon, Sutton, Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Hounslow, Bromley and Bexley. 

Outside of the capital, Edinburgh has the second lowest concentration of homes below the land and buildings transaction tax threshold of £175,000. 

Only 1 in 20 homes listed for sale in the Scottish capital is exempt from the tax.

Other high-value areas in the South East and East of England also have a very limited number of homes priced below the homeowner’s stamp duty threshold. 

Only 1 in 17 homes in Elmbridge and St Albans and 1 in 14 homes marketed in Hertsmere would be exempt from stamp duty land tax. 

How can I find a home that won’t cost me any stamp duty?

Now that you know which areas won’t cost you a stamp duty bill, it’s time to check them out on Zoopla to see if they have the home you’re looking for. 

Our price filters will help you find a home that both fits your budget and falls below the stamp duty tax threshold.

You can also use Zoopla’s Stamp Duty calculator to find out more about stamp duty, the different rates charged and how it may impact your next home purchase. 

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We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.