Chancellor Gordon Brown today answered calls to help cash-strapped home buyers - doubling the stamp duty threshold from #60,000 to #120,000.
The move exceeded the expectations of many within the industry who had predicted a rise to #100,000.
Yet others still insisted he could have done more to help those struggling to get on the property ladder
Around 347,000 properties in England and Wales sold for less than #120,000 last year, equating to 32% of all transactions.
The changes will benefit thousands of first time buyers who will now be exempt from the duty.
The UK's leading lender, the Halifax said last year around 157,000 first time buyers (43% of all those buying their first property) in England and Wales paid between #60,000 and #120,000 for their property.
But there was no comfort for buyers farther up the scale as the Chancellor made no changes to the #250,000 threshold at which 3% is due and #500,000 where 4% is payable.
It is the first time stamp duty levels have been raised since 1993, while property prices have risen 160% in the past 10 years.
Mark Chilton, chief executive of online broker Purely Mortgages, said: "The Chancellor has dipped his toe into the water on stamp duty today but frankly we'd have preferred to have seen a bit more of a splash.
"The thresholds have remained unchanged for around 10 years and at the very least the minimum band should have been raised in line with house price inflation to #150,000.
"We are very concerned that today's budget gave no commitment to increasing the stamp duty thresholds going forward so it could be a further 10 years before we see another change."
The change will bring little or no relief for homebuyers wanting to buy in major UK cities and the South East.
Elliot Nathan, product development manager at leading broker Charcol, said: "With the average house price hovering around the #160,000 mark, it is hard to envisage that this raise in the stamp duty threshold will benefit huge numbers of buyers, especially those desperately trying to get on to the ladder for the first time where the average purchase price is around #130,000.
"Obviously it will ease the financial burden for some, especially in the far north where the average house price is #102,000 so we welcome this move with caution.
"Raising the limit to around #150,000 would have been a much bigger vote-winner come May, and you've now got to wonder where the Chancellor is going to reap this lost revenue from - this is something we'll be keeping a close eye on in the run-up to an election in May."