How to buy a house before the stamp duty holiday ends in March 2021

Get yourself prepared and maximise your chance of closing your house deal before the close of the stamp duty holiday, seeing the end of the £15,000 tax break.

Despite the 31st March seeming a long way off, the sheer volume of buyers and sellers at present in the market are resulting in lengthy delays. House sales have seen a 67% increase from November last year, with Rightmove estimating 650,000 sales are currently going through in the UK.

Due to the sheer volume of property sales, there is a significant backlog in a buyer’s next crucial steps; carrying out the relevant mortgage arrangements, valuations and conveyancing could see a house deal taking a buyer past the stamp duty holiday deadline.

With the clocks-ticking for many deals, the chancellor, Rich Sunak, is already under pressure to extend the stamp duty deadline. In the meantime, many conveyancing firms are advising new clients to assume that their deal will not make the stamp duty tax break.

There are steps buyers and sellers can take, having been prewarned about the likelihood of completing in time, to put themselves in the best possible position to get their deal all finished before 31st March.

How to purchase a property before the end of March 2021

It has been advised that in order to give your property deal the best odds at scraping the deadline, you need to be as prepared as possible. This includes getting all the outstanding arrangements with your mortgage provider, surveyor and any borrowings that may be arranged from family or friends. 

A well-recommended and proactive solicitor is paramount if you want to fast-track through the process. Ask your friends and family or estate agent; anyone you trust to provide you with an objective review. An estate agent may steer you to an in-house team; in these circumstances, it may be worth employing an independent mortgage broker to chase any delays for you.

If possible, enter a property deal with no chain, or as short as you can. It has been suggested that purchasing a new-build home via a Help to Buy could improve our chances of meeting the deadline. However, for seasoned investors, this financial support may not be available, and then a chain-free or brand new home is your best option to speed up the process. Extended property chains inevitably slow down the process again. 

Next, it’s time to get all your documentation up-to-date and ready to go. You will need your proof of identity, wage slips or audited account if you are self-employed or freelance, and your bank statements to hand.

If you are yet to settle or to submit an offer on a property, your best course of action is to choose and select your mortgage instead. By obtaining a mortgage offer, you will find yourself in a more advantageous position once you have found the right property. It is worth remembering that once a house offer has been accepted, it is estimated that the finance, surveys and conveyancing can take up to 12 weeks to be completed. If a seller has already created a seller’s pack, this will help to speed up the process.

And, of course, keeping in regular contact with your estate agent and solicitor is vital. However, do bear in mind that too much chasing can be counterproductive. It is inevitably a hectic time for all conveyancing groups, piling on too much pressure will only add to their burden. 

What happens if you miss the deadline?

All you can do is hope that your proactive actions and all the handwork from your solicitors and surveyors pay off. If you do end up missing the boat, there is no need to panic. There has been some speculation from experts that you may be better off waiting until after the stamp duty holiday.

The thinking is that as the market quietens down, the market should cool off. Yes, your tax bill will increase, but as there is less demand, you may be able to negotiate yourself a better property price and make a saving here instead.

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