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Lobby your MP over stamp duty holiday extension, says Guild

The Guild of Property Professionals is urging the industry - all agents, not just its own members - to lobby MPs to have the stamp duty holiday extended.

The Guild has already joined forces with other industry bodies to write to the government urging an extension, chiefly to ensure buyers whose transactions are delayed by sheer volume of business do not lose out.

“We are hoping to use our influence as a large network to help persuade the government to push back the deadline date because of the high number of transactions currently in the pipeline that won’t make the cut off due to delays. Consumers should not be penalised for the delays currently experienced in the property buying process that they have no control over” explains Guild chief executive Iain McKenzie. 

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“In a bid to up the ante, The Guild has provided its Members with another letter that they can address to their local MPs in a bid to drum up further support of the initiative of extending the tax break” he adds.

“We are encouraging all agents to either use the letter we have drafted or to draft their own letter to their local MP in support of the extension of the holiday. If the sector works together in support of a common goal, there is far more chance that the government will act, and act quickly, which is what is needed.” 

McKenzie warns that the property sector and related services are not equipped to process vast volumes of transactions before the cut off and many consumers run the risk of missing out on the tax break. 

“If the deadline remains as it is, only a quarter of the sales agreed in January will complete in time. According to Zoopla there are approximately 140,000 more people waiting to complete sales than this time last year, so there will be a significant number of buyers who will have to find additional money for stamp duty if they have not budgeted for it.”

McKenzie says that the ideal extension would be six months, or at least some phased additional period to prevent a cliff edge on the current deadline of March 31 next year.

The letter to local MPs is available here and is also set out below.

Dear [MPs Name]

Extension of [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday is paramount to avoid the breakdown of property chains

On behalf of the property sector and our customers who are in the process of purchasing a property, I seek to impress upon you the importance of extending the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday deadline to avoid the breakdown in property chains and provide more time for our customers to complete their property transactions. 

Delays are beyond our customers’ control 

Pent-up demand from Brexit and Lockdown has created a surge of activity in the housing market since reopening in May 2020. The [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, as well as the termination of the existing Help to Buy Scheme added further fuel to the fire, with people who perhaps weren’t in a rush to move, bringing forward their plans to find a new home. As a result of the pent-up demand and sense of urgency created in the market with people pushing to get their transactions completed by the deadline, despite the property market being in lockdown for two months, the overall volumes of transactions are expected to be greater than those seen last year.

Currently, conveyancers are dealing with record volumes of transactions, which has delayed the process. Mortgage applications, surveys and local searches are also all taking significantly longer as a result of the high volumes of transactions. There have been reports that pipeline conversations (exchanges) in recent months are as low as 9%, they should be triple that. This is resulting in more and more sales that are stagnating and not progressing, with the average property transaction time lengthening from 12 weeks to 20 weeks.

The industry does not have the capacity to deal with the volumes of transactions that need to be processed within the timeframe of the deadline. According to Zoopla, there are around 140,000 more people waiting to complete sales compared with this time last year, however, only a quarter of transactions (based on sales agreed in January) will complete by March. Data from TwentyCI reveals that approximately 325,000 buyers with a Sale Agreed from September 2020 to January 2021 will miss out on the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday. 

Our customers should not be penalised as a result of the delays currently being experienced within the sector that are beyond their control. A delay that could result in our customers having to pay up to an additional £15,000 on the purchase of their property.

Breakdown in property chains 

Another concern is that buyers will continue to offer on properties expecting to benefit from the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] rate reduction but in reality, they may already be too late. Failure to complete transactions before 31 March 2021 could see the breakdown of chains with buyers potentially financially unable to continue with the purchase, as they would not have budgeted for the additional expense of paying [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax]. An extension would ensure that many more transactions would be able to complete without the risk of falling through.  

Additionally, significant stress will be removed from all parties involved. It will also save money that would be lost if the transaction falls through. Money that would have been spent on things during the property buying process such as surveys and the like will also be lost if the property falls through. 

Extension of the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday

We urge the Government to consider extending the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday by a further six months to reduce the risk to the consumer. We also propose that the Government work with the industry to develop a method to help smooth the end of an extended [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday to prevent a cliff edge in the property market.

Swift action by the Government will ease the pressure on both our customers and the industry, allowing more transactions to complete, avoiding possible break downs in property chains and a distressing period for movers. Any extension or gradual phasing of the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] would also assist in lessening a possible sharp decline in consumer demand, which would have a knock-on effect on the greater economy. The housing market is intrinsically tied to the economy’s health with homemovers spending £12 billion a year on home-related purchases excluding property purchase and transaction costs. Moving home has many advantages to other aspects of the economy, so action taken by the Government to energise the property market will have a positive impact on the financial health of the country as a whole.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

[Agency]

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    Heres a thought. Why didn't the industry, as apparent property professionals, offer advice and manage expectations instead of screaming from the rooftops for every man and his dog to sell sell sell?

    And here are some of the best in the industry trying to lobby to extend the stamp duty holiday simply because they have failed to act in their clients best interests.

    As an industry we should have done this. It was not hard to forsee.

    I wonder how many brushed off the ticking time bomb that is the stamp duty holiday? I assume those that are going to send this letter to their MP?

    My stall has been set out for months. I've lost instructions because other agents have said "Stamp duty holiday? Yeah, no problem". Come the 31st March I'll have a have a clear conscience.

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