A NORTH-EAST estate agent has expressed disappointment at the Chancellor’s failure to raise the stamp duty threshold for would-be home owners in this year’s Budget.

George Osborne had been tipped to introduce a tax credits scheme or double to £250,000 the starting threshold at which stamp duty – the land tax buyers pay on completion of property transactions – is applied.

No such announcement was made, to the disappointment of Michael O’Connor, a director of Venture Properties, which has offices in Darlington, Crook and Chester-le-Street.

Stamp duty is payable at one per cent on properties selling for between £125,000 and £250,000 and three per cent on those between £251,000 and £500,000.

Mr O’Connor believes that doubling the property value at which stamp duty applies would have given buyers a boost, as would dropping the higher rate from three to two per cent.

Despite the extension of the Help to Buy scheme, which helps would-be first time buyers purchase new-build houses and has been extended to 2020, many people are still struggling to get on the property ladder.

Mr O’Connor added: “There is still a shortage of first-time buyers for whatever reason.

“In terms of people already on the market, we find that properties sell if the price is right.”

Asked about his predictions for the housing market in the North-East over the next five years, Mr O’Connor foresees a period of modest growth.

With a General Election looming next year, he warned that the Government could act if it senses another housing boom is imminent.