Tals Shannon is supposed to be moving into her dream family home next week. But with just days to go, she still doesn’t know if the move will go ahead or if she will be starting her search all over again.
The mother-of-two is precariously balanced in the middle of a property chain of seven people.
If any of them pull out ahead of the stamp duty holiday deadline, the whole chain could collapse — leaving Tals and husband Dean thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Deadline date: The property market reached fever pitch this month as home buyers race to complete their process before the stamp duty holiday ends on June 30
‘It’s very stressful,’ says Tals, 29, from Hertfordshire.
‘We will lose out on £12,500 if we miss the stamp duty deadline but we’ve budgeted for that and can still go ahead. My worry is that the other buyers in the chain have been more reckless and the whole thing could come crashing down.’
And Tals and Dean are not the only ones.
The property market reached fever pitch this month as home buyers race to complete their process before the stamp duty holiday ends on June 30.
Conveyancers are working round the clock to meet deadlines, removal companies are booked up for weeks and buyers are overwhelmingly worried they will lose out on the savings. And with one county council, buyers face a wait time of six months to carry out basic property checks.
‘It’s a stressful time for movers, and solicitors have been working 24/7 to meet clients’ wishes,’ says Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society of England and Wales.
‘Lots of factors came together creating a perfect storm of huge buyer demand.
‘Capacity is stretched across the board, from delays receiving mortgage offers, legal searches and unforeseen hold-ups further along the chain putting people at risk of not meeting the deadline.’
It will put our home move back by years
David and Laura Lister will lose £8,000 if their purchase doesn’t go through before the end of the month — on top of any saving on stamp duty.
The couple, who have an eight-month-old daughter, Nelle, would not be able to afford to buy the £750,000 property in Huddersfield without the £15,000 stamp duty holiday reduction.
David and Laura Lister (pictured with their eight-month-old daughter called Nelle) face losing £8,000 if their purchase doesn’t go through before the end of the month
The Listers put their six-bedroom home in Sheffield on the market in April and found a buyer within days.
But while their offer was accepted on the Huddersfield property a week later, it took eight weeks for legal work to be completed.
The couple have had to shell out £7,000 on specialist searches and tests, which they won’t get back — along with £1,000 in mortgage fees — if the sale falls through.
David, 34, called 20 removal firms before he could find one with availability before July, and was quoted £5,000 by the firm who agreed to do the job.
‘If you’ve shown you’re serious about going through with the purchase, you should be allowed to benefit from the stamp duty holiday if it is delayed by something outside your control,’ he says.
‘We managed to get £100,000 below the asking price on this, so it would take us years to save enough to buy a similar property again.’
According to data from property website Rightmove, there are 704,000 sales going through the conveyancing process in Britain. This is over 275,000 more than the previous record of 428,633 set in May 2017.
While the process of selling a home has accelerated rapidly, the time to complete a transaction has only slowed down — with transactions now taking around 20 weeks.
Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association, says: ‘Through no-one’s fault, there are a number of log-jams to be worked through. Some lenders currently have telephone hold times of two hours, and some valuers are not responding to post-valuation queries, which makes the time to get to completion lengthier.
‘We understand this is a stressful time for all those seeking to complete before the deadline, but rest assured conveyancers are working flat out.’
There is a similar backlog in the workload of local authorities who are struggling with the amount of property searches being requested.
According to online mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages this has led to a postcode lottery over who will meet the stamp duty deadline.
The online broker found that Ashfield District Council in Nottinghamshire had the quickest turnaround time for searches at five working days.
However, homebuyers in Hackney will be waiting 180 working days to get a search returned.
We could lose £5,500 and our dream property
Daniel Flatt and his wife Bianca have been hit by multiple delays to the homebuying process
IT Manager Daniel Flatt and his wife, Bianca, risk losing out on £5,500 if they do not complete the conveyancing process ahead of the stamp duty deadline.
The couple, who have one daughter and are expecting another child in the autumn, have been hit by multiple delays while buying their home.
Daniel, 31, who lives in Peterborough, says: ‘After numerous hiccups, including a previous sale falling through, we are now on the home stretch to buying our dream property.
‘Obviously we’re still hoping to complete by June 30 because the savings would really come in handy.
It’s frustrating that the conveyancing process is a little out of our control and is a bit uncertain.
‘We know that our solicitor is doing all they can to speed everything along.’
The couple say they remain ‘hopeful’ they can still complete the process within the next few weeks
The stamp duty holiday was introduced on properties up to £500,000 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last July, intended to kickstart the market which was frozen during the first lockdown.
But the policy only poured fuel on to the property market which was already heating up due to a wide-spread demand for larger properties after lockdown.
The original deadline of March 31 was extended to give breathing space to those who risked missing the deadline. But the move opened the floodgates to a wave of new buyers.
After June, the stamp duty-free threshold drops to £250,000 until the end of September.
In Scotland a temporary reduction to Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) — the equivalent of stamp duty — was introduced last year though it ended on its original deadline in March.
It is estimated that four in ten property purchases agreed before April 1 will not complete by June 30, according to property data firm TwentyCi.
This means more than 160,000 buyers could miss out on tax savings of up to £15,000.
Among them is software developer Adam Reynolds, 50.
The father-of-one, from Bath, says he is ‘living on a wing and a prayer’ as he hopes to reach the June 30 deadline. Adam and his wife will save £12,000 if they complete by the end of the month.
While they will still be able to go ahead with the sale even if they miss the saving, they are also worried in case somebody in their property chain pulls out.
Adam says: ‘We accepted an offer on our house in January. We were hoping to have everything wrapped up and moved by March — around the time the first stamp duty holiday ended. But there have been lots of stumbling blocks right across the chain.
‘Paperwork has been stalled and all these little things have added together to create a perfect storm. I really do pity everybody going through this.’
How much would you save?
With just weeks to go, buyers are now rushing to beat the deadling that could save them a maximum of £15,000 on their tax bill – after that the saving will taper and be removed completely at the end of September.
Our calculator shows how much tax you would pay to move home until the 30 June 2021.
Adam has even been negotiating with people along his chain to let them store each other’s stuff in garages to help with the move.
He says: ‘The other problem is that all the removal van companies are booked up.
‘We must have contacted more than 30 and not one of them had any availability.’
The chaos means a spike in removal van gazumping — companies bailing at the last minute as they’ve been offered more money from another client.
Fred Morpeth, who runs Bristol-based removals firm Macro Removals, says: ‘One person just said to me ‘name your price’.
‘We wouldn’t take him on but there are a lot of cowboys across the removals industry who would exploit the situation and add a zero to their price.
‘If anyone is looking to move in the next month, I’d advise them now is the time to start cashing in on favours with their family and friends to help them.’
Our chain hangs in the balance
Carol Cornelius and husband, Darryl fear their five-property chain will collapse if they miss the stamp duty deadline
Charity worker Carol Cornelius and her husband, Darryl, fear their five-property chain will collapse if they miss the stamp duty deadline — so they’d lose a £15,000 saving.
The couple are selling their four-bedroom terrace in Woolwich, South-East London, to buy a five-bedroom detached house in Bournemouth, but have yet to exchange contracts.
Carol, 49, says: ‘We can’t say ‘when’ we move any more — until we are actually in the house it is going to be an ‘if’.
‘We are really worried whether all the sales will go ahead in time because we know the banks and solicitors will all be so busy.’
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