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  • Writer's pictureMortgage Tree

How to buy a house before the stamp duty holiday ends.

How to speed up your house sale and/or purchase so you don't miss out on the stamp duty holiday.

The government introduced a stamp duty holiday in July. The tax is now suspended on the first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland until 31st March next year.

This will save buyers as much as £15,000, if they are buying a property of £500,000 or more.

But, it has been estimated that more than 300,000 sales agreed between September 2020 and January 2021 could miss out.

Property data analysts TwentyCi estimate that as many as half of sales agreed on October 22 would not meet the March 31 deadline, with more and more buyers disappointed as we head towards the new year.

Buyers stand to miss out because conveyancing, lending and search services are overwhelmed by demand.

The Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Bold Legal Group, and The Conveyancing Association issued a statement in October saying that transactions are going to take longer than usual to progress. The stamp duty holiday, a backlog of transactions still outstanding following the spring lockdown, and the impact of Covid 19 on individual lawyers are all to blame.

The situation is expected to be further compounded as firms adjust their working practises as we enter a second national lockdown.

How to speed up your sale and purchase

Sellers can use our estate agent tool to find the best local estate agent based on how quickly they sell, how often they achieve asking price, their success rate and more.

You can compare quotes now from conveyancing solicitors and speak to them about the process and costs so you’re ready to instruct them.

They can complete transactions quicker. Digital Move claims cases can be completed up to 6 weeks quicker. Look for the Digital Move logo when you search for your conveyancing firm.

Also known as an EPC this has to be included with a sale by law. It shows how energy efficient your new home is and if you moved in within the last 10 years, yours is still valid. Here’s how to check if you have one or how to get one if you still need to.

If it’s a leasehold, find the lease. Locate certificates showing compliance with regulations of any works done from planning permissions to FENSA certificates for window replacements. Don’t forget valid guarantees a home buyer will want to see. Here’s a list of essential documents to get ready

Many lenders and brokers are experiencing COVID related delays and mortgage choices have significantly reduced, especially for first time buyers. Avoid wasting time later down the line and start the mortgage process now.

In uncertain times like these, home buyer protection insurance covers buyers for some of their legal and survey costs as well as mortgage lending fees should your purchase fall through.

Covid-19 and now lockdown restrictions mean many local authorities are struggling to supply their own searches and also to provide access to data for personal search companies.

If you are moving within an area you know well, then “no search indemnity insurance” will cover you if one or more searches do not come through before you need to exchange. But you’ll need to check your lender would be happy to lend on that basis. For more information see our guide, with details of what to consider and information on local delays.

9. Plan for the worst case scenario

While we’re calling on government to extend the stamp duty holiday beyond March, there is no guarantee this will happen. And the move process is an uncertain one at the best of times.

If you are buying, you should cost in the additional stamp duty rate in the event you complete after the 31st March 2021 and make sure you have a contingency to make that payment. Sellers may also want to check their buyers could afford the additional tax if this did happen. When push comes to shove, if you need to pull out of the transaction, both parties can legally do so without financial consequences before exchange of contracts.


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