Delays across the house buying sector mean those wanting to benefit from the stamp duty holiday need to begin the buying and selling process by November 1.
That’s the advice of the Legal & General Mortgage Club, which has tracked delays occurring because of the high transaction volumes in recent months.
L&GMC says in the majority of cases before the pandemic, a mortgage application for a consumer with straightforward circumstances took less than two weeks to move to mortgage offer.
However, since the UK-wide lockdown ended, this process is taking much longer – around a third of its mortgage advisers told the club it was taking three to four weeks with a further third saying it is taking four to eight weeks. Those applicants with more complex backgrounds, such as those with impaired credit histories or who have been on furlough, may typically need six to eight weeks to get approved for a mortgage.
Conveyancers have told L&GMC that the time between offer and exchange is now taking three weeks, while the period between exchange and completion stands at one to two weeks. Responses from estate agents also indicated that the average time between receiving an offer on a property and completion has increased by some eight weeks.
The overall timeline for home buying, therefore, could be up to 15 weeks for a straightforward deal or up to 17 weeks for buyers with more complex requirements.
However, this figure does not take into account half term and Christmas holidays nor the impact of a possible second lockdown.
Legal & General therefore advises buyers to begin their search by November 1 to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday to give themselves enough breathing space should any issues arise before completion.
“Policy makers need to consider if a tapering of the Stamp Duty deadline is needed instead of a hard deadline. We need to avoid those moving or purchasing a home missing out through delays after 31 March when the holiday ends” says club director Kevin Roberts.