Stamp duty, first time buyers and licensing of estate agents are the top three issues for estate agents at the forthcoming election, according to research by the National Association of Estate Agents.

Despite the Chancellors' increase to stamp duty thresholds in the March Budget, 78 per cent of estate agents still believe that further increases would be a key way to improve the housing market.

Over 40 per cent of estate agents have reported an increase in first time buyers since the change in the base level, with a quarter of estate agents adding that they had seen some asking prices being amended to just below the new £120,000 threshold.

However, it is widely believed that further increases are needed across all the thresholds to bring the tax fully up-to-date.

Less than one in five agents believe that the present Government has helped the housing market over recent years, with 45 per cent believing Labour leadership has actually hindered the market.

Key issues from the last couple of years include Home Information Packs - set to be introduced in 2007 and the licensing of estate agents. Both were rated highly among the estate agents in this month's poll. Almost half wish to see HIPs scrapped with a further 15 per cent believing a voluntary scheme would be more effective.

At the recent NAEA National Congress, both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats pledged to scrap HIPs should they come to power. Licensing of the profession is a priority for two thirds of estate agents.

The NAEA has been campaigning for an effective regulatory scheme. All members must currently abide by a strict code of practice and rules of conduct or face expulsion from the association.

However, there are limited powers to stop rogue agents from continuing to practise.

Peter Bolton King, NAEA chief executive, said: "These results reflect the feelings of 10,000 estate agents."