Will the stamp duty holiday be extended?

24 February 2021

By Stuart Hill, Director and Solicitor, Residential Conveyancing

If you are in the process of buying a property, you may have considered whether you will be able to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, allowing you to save up to £15,000 on your property purchase.

In this article, we look at the possible extension of the stamp duty holiday and the potential impact for buyers and sellers on how transactions will proceed.

Stamp duty holiday – demand and delays 
The stamp duty holiday was introduced to stimulate the property market and means that until the end of March 2021, the level at which stamp duty is charged on a residential property has been raised to £500,000. However, arguably, the scheme has been too successful, putting pressure on the industry as more people race to take advantage of the tax break. 

Coupled with operations restrictions, the stamp duty holiday has slowed almost every part of the conveyancing process. Surveyors, mortgage lenders, search agencies and conveyancing lawyers are struggling to meet demand which means that the average property transaction completion time has increased from 12 weeks to 16 weeks. As a result, new buyers are unlikely to meet the 31 March deadline to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. 

Will the stamp duty holiday be extended? 
The government has stated that it has no plan to extend the stamp duty holiday long term, however, during the pandemic, the rules often change at the last minute. Further tax announcements are expected as part of the Budget, scheduled for 3 March, and sources such as The Independent, Sky News and The Telegraph all suggest that the tax holiday may be extended for a further three months ending in June.  

What can buyers and sellers do? 
There are several things that both buyers and sellers can do in the meantime to ensure their property transaction moves and efficiently as possible. 

Instruct a solicitor. Buyers should instruct a solicitor as soon as an offer is accepted, and sellers should instruct a solicitor as soon as their property is listed. Your solicitor should be able to give you a realistic timescale for the property transaction.

Get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is required by law, and you may still need to get one. You should also gather other paperwork, such as planning permissions and compliance certificates from any works done. Download our Getting Ready for Sale Checklist to help you prepare.

Sort out a mortgage in principle. Before you make an offer on a property, start the mortgage process. Many lenders are experiencing delays, and mortgage options are fewer – particularly for first-time buyers. Get a head start. 

Consider time for searches. Many local authorities are struggling to keep up with the demand for searches. You may wish to discuss using a private company via your solicitor.

If you would like a free initial consultation with one of our specialist Conveyancing team, contact us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.