Too late to beat the stamp duty deadline?

If you’re buying a home, time is ticking if you want to take advantage of the Government’s stamp duty holiday and save yourself up to £15,000. The tax break means that anyone buying a home worth up to £500,000 doesn’t have to pay property taxes. However, after 31 March, the threshold reverts back to £125,000, meaning you will have to pay potentially thousands more in taxes.

While anecdotal,  there are some indications that the property market is cooling as the deadline looms and people abandon hope of making it across the line. Halifax Bank for instance published its latest house price figures showing asking prices suffered their biggest fall in January since April 2020. There is also a question hanging over the market as to whether Rishi Sunak will extend the holiday. At the time of writing, a chorus of voices is assembling calling on the Chancellor to extend the holiday and avoid a cliff edge.

Ways to beat the deadline

Unfortunately, we won’t know until 3 March what the Chancellor decides (read our full piece on ‘what’s in store for the Budget’). With that in mind, and less than two months to go until the deadline, have you missed the boat? And what can you do to ensure that your purchase completes on time? If you haven’t already started the purchase process, then in all honesty the likelihood that you’ll beat the deadline now is slim, unless you’re buying with cash and are not part of a chain. However, if you are part way through the process, here is what you can do to speed things up.

Find a solicitor with capacity – Many property lawyers, or conveyancers, are reporting that they are swamped at the moment because of the wave of buyers looking to beat the deadline. If you don’t have a conveyancer lined up, then call around until you find a reputable one that has the capacity to complete all of the necessary paperwork by the deadline.

Book your survey as soon as possible – A survey is a vital part of the homebuying process and can’t be skipped. Like conveyancers, surveyors are likely to be very busy right now. Take the initiative and line one up as soon as you possibly can.

Stay in regular contact with your estate agent – As time is not on your side, your estate agent will be one of your best friends over the next few weeks. If you’re relying on the stamp duty savings, and are in a chain, tell your estate agent to stress to the others in that chain that it’s vitally important to work as quickly as possible. That’s a little bit out of your control, but it may inspire a bit of urgency to others in the chain.

 Get expert mortgage advice – A good mortgage broker will not only find you a good interest rate, but they will also be able to tell you which lenders are suffering delays and which ones can give you an offer quickly. Ask you adviser what documents you need at the very beginning so you can save time further down the road.

Be organised and pushy – Your broker, solicitor, lender and surveyor all have a vital role to play in making sure you beat the deadline, but so do you. It’s your job to make sure that you act quickly and provide the necessary documents as quickly as possible when asked for them. And if things are delayed, don’t be afraid to apply pressure on whichever part is holding things up.

If you’re ultimately unsure at whether it is worth it to try and beat the rush or perhaps wait and see if the Chancellor gives you extra time, get in touch to discuss your options.