A law firm wants the government to agree that properties that have exchanged but not yet completed can definitely benefit from the stamp duty holiday ending on March 31.
Collyer Bristow says this - or a full-blown extension to the SDLT holiday - would ensure the current backlog of transactions can be dealt with fairly.
The firm says there’s been a sustained period of unprecedented demand on conveyancers, surveyors and lenders; this is likely to result in many homebuyers missing out on the holiday through no fault of their own.
Janet Armstrong-Fox, partner and head of private client property at Collyer Bristow, says: “The residential property market remains exceptionally busy at all levels, with the demand on property lawyers and surveyors particularly acute. The lockdown throughout the spring, traditionally a busy period for the residential market, and the SDLT holiday is driving that demand.
“Buyers are already being asked to ensure they have a surveyor and solicitor on board to see the transaction through, and if they don’t their offers are being turned down.
“The delays do not, however, just sit with the solicitors or surveyors. There are many steps in the conveyancing process from local authority searches taking many weeks to complete, to mortgage offers taking twice as long to be processed, translating into weeks of delay."
Armstrong-Fox goes on: "As it stands, any transaction that hasn’t completed by March 31 will fail to qualify for the SDLT relief, and that is likely to result in sales falling through.
“We would urge the government to consider extending the SDLT holiday or, if that is not viable, to allow sales that have exchanged, but are yet to complete, to qualify.”