The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) welcomed last week a major victory in Alistair Darling’s decision to raise the threshold of stamp duty land tax. The NAEA has long campaigned for a major rethink on stamp duty – which it believes to be a tax on aspiration. Last week in the final Budget before the election, Mr Darling listened and raised the threshold to £250,000 for the next 2 years. Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA, said: “For thousands of first time buyers the dream of getting onto the property ladder was slipping out of reach. “This announcement has added a new rung to the property ladder, one within reach of thousands of young families. “We have long argued that stamp duty is a tax on aspiration that smothered the natural demand of the market. We still believe that more reform is needed and there is more work to be done, but we applaud this decision – a major victory for first time buyers.” Buyers will be eligible only if they have never bought a home in Britainor overseas in the past. It also must be their only or main home, a move designed to exclude young buy-to-let investors. But the Chancellor’s move is being funded by a tax grab on anyone buying a home for more than £1million. From April 2011 stamp duty on these properties will jump from 4 to 5 per cent, the highest ever charged. Official figures show 92 homes were sold every week last year in the UKfor £1million or more. During the boom years, the figure was far higher at 170 a week. Most are not palaces, but homes in a part of the country where prices have spiraled to extraordinary levels, with many families now forced to spend £1 million on a four-bedroom home. Certainly Canary Wharf will be impacted at both levels as the first time buyers will find it easier to step on the ladder but the high percentage of bankers are sure to be impacted by the steep jump to 5% over a million.