Last year, the government introduced a stamp duty holiday in an attempt to keep the property market moving through the lockdown. The changes meant that some homebuyers were able to to benefit from a £500,000 tax-free threshold, up from £125,000 for existing homeowners or £300,000 for first-time buyers. For those purchasing properties up to the £500,000 mark, that meant a potential saving of up to £15,000 in stamp duty fees.
The stamp duty holiday has had a dramatic impact on the UK property market including house prices. Estimates suggest that prices are increasing by nearly 9% year on year and sales have peaked to around 100,000 transactions every month. The property portal, Rightmove estimates that the stamp duty break may have benefited around 1.3 million buyers so far.
What are the latest changes?
As of 30 June the stamp duty threshold has changed, dropping from £500,000 to £250,000. This will remain in place until 30 September 2021. From 1 October, the stamp duty threshold will return to the normal level of £125,000.
If you’re purchasing a property up to £250,000, you could potentially save £2,500 under the current scheme.
Will I still be able to benefit from the stamp duty holiday, what do I need to factor in?
If you have made the decision to purchase a property you should always make sure you include stamp duty fees in your budgeting. The conveyancing process usually takes around 8-12 weeks, but this can vary due to a wide range of factors. It’s also important to remember we remain in a pandemic, with many staff at banks, solicitors, estate agents and local councils still working from home. There are delays and backlogs in the system so it’s important to factor that into your timescales.
What can I do to speed up the process from my side?
While there are some delays that unfortunately you can’t control, here are three steps you can take help you get the keys to your new home that much quicker.
Instruct your conveyancer and lender as soon as possible. Getting an Agreement in Principle even before you start looking for your next home can be a massive help. Once you have an offer accepted, appoint a conveyancer straight away.
Make sure you have all your documentation to hand. If you’re selling a property as well as buying, make sure you have all your paperwork in place. Obtain an up-to-date Energy-Performance-Certificate (EPC), check for any building warranties or planning permission and building regulations approval for example.
Take decisive action and act quickly. If there are any issues with your survey or the property searches, if you can, act promptly to address these and avoid any major delays. Also, if you can, try and respond to any questions or requests from your solicitor/conveyancer as quickly as you can.