The government’s upcoming changes to the housing market are planned to favour property buyers aiming to live in the island.

The Land, Deeds and Probate Registries Fees and Duties Order 2023 is expected to come into operation from May 1.

It will adjust the market in the island to favour residents buying property to live in rather than for other purposes.

Enterprise Minister Tim Johnston was asked what impact the changes would have in the House of Keys last week.

He said: ‘Information is being collected to allow the register to apply appropriate fees to property purchases. Securing suitable and affordable housing is widely recognised as a challenge for many residents of the Isle of Man.

‘This administration has, as outlined in the Island Plan, committed to addressing barriers to the refocusing of incentives to enable residents to own their own homes, alongside improving the quality of accommodation across the island.

‘The order will introduce new fees and duties intended to recognise the market pressures being driven, possibly in part by investors and buy to let buyers, whilst further discounting and favouring other occupiers.

‘It will also provide a valuable source of data to facilitate future decisions we may need to consider.’

The key points of the order are:

– to increase the threshold at which own occupier properties become exempt from the variable fees from £190,000 to £230,000

– to increase fees and duties for non-occupiers from 1% to 2% of purchase price for properties up to £50,000

– to introduce a new fee for off-island buyers of 2% which will be levied on top of the non-occupier fee

– to update fixed fees to reflect general inflation since 2019

Mr Johnston added: ‘I acknowledge that these changes alone will not address the range of challenges facing home buyers in the Isle of Man.

‘It does, however, complement the holistic response of government to make the property market more accessible for residents and enhance the island’s proposition for the future.’

Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Jason Moorhouse worried that while ‘the headline does sound good’ once you start interfering with the market ‘you can’t be sure what the consequences might be’.

‘The intent of the order is not to significantly impact on the current housing market, only to adjust it slightly to benefit those looking for property to purchase,’ Mr Johnston said. ‘We hear time and time again about the difficulty getting onto the housing ladder, it is hoped this order will go some way to rebalancing this.’