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Stamp Duty for First-Time Buyers

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

12th Mar 2020 (Last updated on 22nd Oct 2020) 6 minute read

When budgeting to buy your first home, it’s important to include all the extra fees besides the initial deposit. It can be easy to forget the different costs involved, but one of the most important ones to remember is Stamp Duty. 

Stamp Duty is the tax you must pay when purchasing a property in the UK. It can add thousands to your bill and so it’s important to research what it is before you commit to buying your first home. As a first-time buyer, you are very likely to be exempt from paying this fee and so now is the time to find out for sure. 

Compare My Move has worked alongside property and finance experts to create this guide explaining what stamp duty is, why it’s important and how it relates to you as a first-time buyer. 

This article will cover the following:
  1. Stamp Duty Covid-19 Update
  2. What is Stamp Duty?
  3. How Much Will You Have to Pay?
  4. What is First-Time Buyer Relief?
  5. Who Counts as a First-Time Buyer?
  6. Can You Get First-Time Buyer Relief on a Buy-to-Let Property?
  7. Do You Have to Pay Stamp Duty When Purchasing a Shared Ownership home?
  8. Can You Use A Help-to-Buy ISA Bonus to Pay Stamp Duty?
  9. Do You Need a Conveyancing Solicitor?
  10. When Do You Have to Pay Stamp Duty?
  11. Moving House with Compare My Move

Stamp Duty Covid-19 Update

Stamp Duty has been scrapped on all homes in England under £500,000 with immediate effect. As part of the chancellor’s emergency mini-budget, Rishi Sunak announced on July 8th 2020 that by increasing the Stamp Duty threshold from £125,000 to £500,000, the average home buyer can save £4,500. The move to get rid of Stamp Duty charges in England will help the housing market during the Covid-19 outbreak and is expected to be in place until March 2021. There has been no change to Stamp Duty or Land Transaction Tax in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland yet.

What is Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty, or Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), is the tax you must pay when purchasing land or property worth more than £125,000 in England and Northern Ireland. This means that you will have to pay a percentage of the purchase price of your property, the amount of which will vary depending on a number of different factors.

In Wales, it was replaced by Land Transaction Tax (LTT) in 2018 and in Scotland, it was replaced by Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in 2015. Each of these follows a similar blueprint, with a set rate between each price band.

How Much Will You Have to Pay?

The amount of Stamp Duty you’ll have to pay is relative to your property price and whether it’s in England or Northern Ireland, or Wales, or Scotland. It’s based on a series of tax bands on different portions of your total house price. 

According to our data, the average homebuyer will spend around £2,115 on stamp duty. This price will vary depending on a variety of factors such as the price of your property. The cost will also greatly differ depending on whether you’re paying the Wales Land Transaction Tax or Scotland’s Land and Buildings Transaction.

Let’s take a look at the different Stamp Duty Tax Rates below.

Property Purchase PriceStamp Duty RatePayable Amount

Up to £125,000



£125,000 - £250,000


£0 - £2,500

£250,000 - £925,000


£2,500 - £36,250

£925,000 - £1,500,000






The above data has been taken from our own research shown in our Stamp Duty article.

As of mid-2020, if you’re a first-time buyer, you are very likely to be entitled to first-time buyer relief and will be exempt from paying stamp duty. To quickly calculate exactly how much stamp duty you will need to pay, use our free Stamp Duty Calculator.

What is First-Time Buyer Relief?

First-time buyer relief, also known as first-time buyer stamp duty exemption, which was first introduced in November 2017. 

Since its introduction, there have been over 464,700 claims for first-time buyer relief in the UK. According to HM Revenue & Customs, this means that the total amount relieved since it began is currently over £1.1 billion.

If you’re a first-time buyer in England or Northern Ireland, you won’t have to pay stamp duty on properties worth up to £300,000. For those living in Scotland, it’s for properties worth up to £175,000. 

There is no relief from Land Transaction Tax for first-time buyers in Wales. However, you’re only liable to pay LTT when you buy a residential property that costs more than £180,000.

Who Counts as a First-Time Buyer?

To be a first-time buyer, you must never have owned a residential property in the UK or abroad. First-time buyers will not have a property to sell before buying a new one and so will be chain-free.  

If you have previously inherited a house, you will no longer be considered as a first-time buyer as you will have legally owned the property. Also, if your name is on the deeds of any property - even one you only have a share in, perhaps with a partner or a friend -you will not be considered as a first-time buyer.

Can You Get First-Time Buyer Relief on a Buy-to-Let Property?

No. First-time buyer relief is only for those buying a property that they intend to live in. You can let out other rooms within the property you’re living in and qualify for first-time buyer relief, but not when buying a buy-to-let home

Do You Have to Pay Stamp Duty When Purchasing a Shared Ownership home?

Yes. You will have the option of paying the stamp duty fee either upfront or in stages.  However, if you’re a first-time buyer purchasing a shared ownership home, you will be entitled to some form of first-time buyer relief.

Can You Use A Help-to-Buy ISA Bonus to Pay Stamp Duty?

Yes. If you inform your conveyancing solicitor that you have a Help to Buy ISA, they can submit the bonus request once a completion date has been agreed upon. They will then receive the payment and deduct the cost from what you owe on the property.

Do You Need a Conveyancing Solicitor?

The conveyancing process refers to the legal aspects of buying and selling a property. Stamp duty is a major part of the conveyancing process and must be paid once legal ownership has been transferred. Although it’s possible to do the conveyancing yourself, it’s an extremely lengthy and complicated process. A delay in this process means a delay in the entire transaction and probably substantial wasted expenditure. 

To ensure ownership is legally transferred, it’s recommended to hire a conveyancing solicitor. They will help you through each step and inform you of any progression or delays. They will also handle the payment of your stamp duty fee and ensure the correct steps are taken. By hiring an experienced conveyancer, you’ll feel less pressured during the process and can trust that every step is completed correctly and to legal standards. 

When Do You Have to Pay Stamp Duty?

Your conveyancer will likely handle your Stamp Duty bill for you. However, it’s important to know when it’s due to be paid to ensure they’re handling it correctly. If you do not pay your stamp duty on time, you may be subject to penalties and added interest.

To avoid these consequences, you must pay SDLT 30 days after you complete on the purchase of your home. This means that you must pay the fee within 30 days of your completion day, which is when you would have received the keys to the property and become its legal owner. 

Your solicitor should handle everything on your behalf but it’s important to keep an open line of communication to ensure the process is going smoothly. All the forms that need to be filled out can be completed online or over the phone. If you’d like to find out more about Stamp Duty Land Tax forms, visit the website.

Moving House with Compare My Move

The conveyancing process is often filled with difficult legal jargon and a range of searches that must be carried out to ensure you’re the legal owner of the property. Don’t forget to compare conveyancing quotes as early as possible to make sure you find the perfect conveyancing solicitor to help you tackle your stamp duty fees. 

We only work with the most trusted and professional companies, helping you receive first-class services to aid you through the moving process. Whether you’re searching for an expert conveyancer, experienced property surveyor or a verified removals company, our team is here to help you find the best in the business. 

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Graham Norwood

Reviewed by Graham Norwood

Property Journalist and Editor,

With over 15 years of experience in residential property journalism, Graham is currently the editor for both Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today.