Thousands of property sales are at risk of falling through if they are not completed before the imminent stamp duty deadline. Solicitors are working flat out, but buyers are threatening to pull out as the window closes.
It is feared that four in ten sales agreed before April 1st will not complete by June 30th, leaving more than 160,000 buyers missing out on tax savings of up to £15,000, warns property data firm TwentyCi. The stamp duty holiday applies to properties worth up to £500,000. The knock on effect could cause thousands of property chains to collapse, causing even more buyers to lose their dream homes.
During the first lockdown, some law firms made entire conveyancing teams redundant. when the market bounced back more quickly than expected, many struggled to rehire and now run on skeleton staff - who are often still working from home.
Solicitors have described the market as frantic, with worried buyers throwing tantrums ahead of the deadline. Panicked sellers are moving to rented properties so their buyers do not pull out. Buyers are also struggling to find removal firms, with many fully booked.
The stamp duty holiday was introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last July to kickstart the market after it was frozen at the start of the pandemic. along with pent-up demand and a desire to upsize after lockdown, it has led to record prices. More than 300,000 deals were tipped to miss the original stamp duty deadline of March 31st, TwentyCi said. But the Government extended the holiday until the end of June. The stamp duty-free threshold then drops to £250,000 until September 30th. While the extension gave breathing space to those at risk of missing the first deadline, it also opened up the floodgates to a wave of new buyers.