The UK Budget 2021 is just around the corner, and, if reports are to be believed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is planning on extending the holiday on stamp duty land tax (SDLT) until the end of June 2021. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the initial stamp duty holiday last summer in a bid to breathe new life into the UK property market.
The holiday enables anyone to purchase a home worth £500,000 or less and not pay a penny in SDLT. According to Trussle’s online stamp duty tool, which compares how much buyers would pay during and after the SDLT holiday, this could save people living in England and Northern Ireland up to £15,000 in stamp duty based on properties valued at £500,000.
The stamp duty holiday was all set to expire on 31 March 2021, but stories in the press suggest that the Chancellor will extend this for an additional three months to enable hundreds of thousands of property purchases to complete within the holiday, thus avoiding a “cliff-edge” scenario which could have jeopardised up to 300,000 property sales. This could be your golden opportunity to get your hands on a property you’ve always wanted. If the costs of stamp duty and other costly moving fees have held you back from buying your dream home, now could be the ideal time to make your move.
Although it’s not 100% confirmed that the stamp duty holiday will be extended, there is a considerable chance of it happening. HM Treasury appears to have decided that the 31 March deadline would have seen market activity slow to a virtual standstill on 1 April 2021. Even if the three-month extension is merely kicking the can of this issue further down the road, it could be an opportunity for you to exploit.
The only fly in the ointment could be if the Treasury opts to set a benchmark for property moves that are eligible for the holiday extension. For instance, it might be that the government requires buyers to have had an offer accepted or even received a mortgage offer from their respective lenders to proceed. However, such variables could cause more confusion than is necessary, with a blanket extension the easier option all round.
Is it possible to buy and exchange contracts on my dream home in three months?
On average, a property sale takes upwards of six months to complete. The time window between having an offer accepted and completing a purchase is normally four months of that six-month timeframe. The key is to ensure you aren’t part of a sizeable chain of property sales. Ideally, you wouldn’t be part of an onward chain whatsoever.
Ultimately, any sale would hinge on how quickly your conveyancers, lenders, and surveyors can work on behalf of you and your seller. Realistically, for a sale to complete within three months, you’ll need to ensure that you are chain-free or in a very small chain, with minimal or no issues arising from property surveys or searches. Make sure you have all documentation relating to your own property; i.e. gas safety certificates or workmanship guarantees, close to hand in case your own buyer poses any questions through their solicitor.
Before you go too far down the road with your purchase, consider liaising with your chosen conveyancer and ask how long transactions are taking to complete on average. They will know full well about any extensions to the stamp duty holiday, and will be just as keen to get your move off their books and onto the next.