By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Graham Awards


Stamp Duty mayhem? Conveyancers may not cope, warn agents

An estate agency is warning that the likely rush of transactions when the new stamp duty holiday ends next spring will be too big for conveyancers, surveyors and mortgage lenders to cope with.

Mike Scott, chief property analyst at online agency Yopa, says he welcomes the announcement made yesterday that there would be a stamp duty holiday until the end of March for all homes costing £500,000 or less.

But he adds: “When the stamp duty holiday comes to an end at the end of March, the market will be distorted as everyone rushes to complete their purchase in time. Further, there may not be sufficient capacity for conveyancers, estate agents, surveyors or mortgage lenders to cope.”


Scott says he would have preferred to have seen a longer stamp duty reduction phased out gradually rather than hitting a cliff-edge on one specific date.

Better still, he says, would have been for the government to have encouraged mortgage lenders to resume products with 90 per cent loan to value, thus enabling more first time buyers to get on to the property ladder without needing such large deposits. 

“Since stamp duty is payable upon completion, and it typically takes three or four months to go from agreeing a property purchase to completing it, many of the buyers who will be helped are already in the process of purchasing; a decision they made months ago and have fiscally accounted for” explains Scott, who says these purchasers “will effectively be getting a free handout from the government.”

Making a similar point is Iain McKenzie, chief executive of the Guild of Property Professionals, who says: “Our advice now is for sellers to instruct a conveyancer at the time of first going to the market, to prepare a sale ready pack. Conveyancers may get inundated with cases and best practice will try to avoid a blockage where possible.”

Yopa and the Guild are not the only parts of the property industry with concerns about the impact of the stamp duty holiday.

Although the move is broadly welcomed by London estate agency Benham and Reeves, its director Marc von Grundherr adds: “This latest move should help keep property values buoyant although it is disappointing to see yet another government initiative that focusses on fuelling demand instead of addressing housing supply.”



Anthony Codling, the former property analyst who is now running the PropTech firm Twindig, warns: “It will be interesting to see if the stamp duty cut leads to a thriving UK housing market and provides the confidence in buying selling moving that we need, I hope I am wrong, but history suggests otherwise. We may be being encouraged to eat out to help out but we are certainly not being encouraged to move out.”

Quick buy company National Property Trade says it was “extremely disappointing” that the scope of the Chancellor’s stamp duty holiday was so limited. 

“What about last time buyers? It’s extremely disappointing not to see a … stamp duty exemption for older downsizers who collectively hold the key to unlocking our housing market … It would also have been good to see an exception of the additional three per cent stamp duty levy” says NPT’s chief executive Cormac Henderson.

  • Rob Hailstone

    I agree with Iain McKenzie, in my opinion a seller’s pack would help reduce transaction times significantly. Not only would a quicker, less stressful transaction be good for the public, it would also help any firms (agents, conveyancers, removals etc) with cashflow problems.

    If seller’s packs become the norm, then by next March, when the expected rush comes coping with that rush will be a lot easier.

    Many conveyancers are now open to the idea of producing a pack (many already do) whilst a property is being marketed (normally a ‘legally dead’ time). It doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive, or even a barrier to marketing. In fact, if explained to a seller, it could be a marketing benefit.

  • Matt Faizey

    Biggest help would be fixing the farce of late key release that blights & wrecks moving day for thousands every month.

    That and fixing the farce of having a mere handful of days if not hours between exchange and completion.

    We should fix the major causes of stress for the public first.

    The current system isn't broken, it's badly implemented.

    You can give a person the best tools in the world to do a job but if the job is executed badly with little care then the client is still being abused and ripped off.

    A cliff edge isn't ideal, but then neither is the debt we're incurring.

    Gov will get criticised no matter what they do

    Matt Faizey

    And Marc von Grundherr is spot-on. There are not enough of us banging the drum for increasing supply to meaningful levels.

    Demand side stimulus with too little supply is what has led to the over the top price rises and hugely stretched borrowing.

    Bubbles always pop. Eventually

  • Rob Hailstone

    Unfortunately, Matt, the occurrence of simultaneous exchanges and completions has increased, not decreased during Covid. The reasoning seems to be, the longer the gap, the more time there is for illness to strike mor mortgages to be withdrawn etc. And once it is explained to home movers what the penalties for not completing might be, many chose the simultaneous route at the moment. This is not a preferred procedure for conveyancers, agents and removers. Everyone prefers certainty when having to make future plans.

  • Matt Faizey

    If only there were contract amendments available to cope.....

    Make you wonder why the number doing simultaneous are by no means a majority.

    Either the legal advice given to maintain a sensible gap is correct or the advice to sim&ex is correct. They can't both be. This is often happening within the same chain.

    The outcome however is structure and calm for one client Vs stress for the other.

    Seems like major reform of how conveyancers practice might be more helpful in he short term. Perhaps bringing the disorganised / last minute numpties up to the level of the better conveyancers who understand clients desire for calm and certainty.

    You can give a monkey the finest tools and the best equipped workshop in the land. That monkey though will still botch your engine repair.

  • Proper Estate Agent

    There will be a rush now, and probably house price inflation followed by a total lull and wipe out for a few months either side of the end date.... another dumb idea messing with stamp duty. Should just reduced it for the foreseeable future and ditched the 3nd home tax.

    Matt Faizey

    Or maybe not touched it at all.

  • Rob Hailstone

    Any chance of a sensible conversation is over once again Matt:(

  • Matt Faizey

    Not at all.
    Please do explain.
    I'm keen to understand why in the last two weeks alone;

    I have met people in a chain of 5 where four were keen to exchange a week to ten days in advance yet one conveyancer (confirmed not on clients instructions as I spoke to them directly) outright refused to do anything other than sim&ex. Cue huge standoff and only at pain of the chain collapsing did that single conveyancer relent. So, were the four correct or the one?

    We have repeatedly had key release after 3pm. In fact on 26th June for one client it was 4:30pm. Her day went from happy to hugely stressed. My crew thoroughly stitched up (it's written up in my blog pages comparing the clients emotions to Stockholm syndrome).

    You think that a post by me rightly pointing out that collective conveyancing competence needs raising renders sensible conversation impossible?

    Yet the very premise of his article is as lack of ability to cope by conveyancers.

    A sensible conversation on reform, correction and benefit to the public begins with identifying the failings.

    I've yet to see you make one single identification of failure that you acknowledge affects public stress to the negative by conveyancers. Yet EA's and movers all over know it's happening. Just as failures by EA's and movers do too.

    Try empathising with where the concerns come from Rob,

    Maybe you will find a sensible conversation. It won't happen with all that sand around your ears however.

  • icon

    Looks just like the run up to the great crash of the late 80's when the government cancelled MIRAS for both people buying. The next day the phone stopped ringing, it didn't start ringing again properly for 5 years... The only solution is to abolish stamp duty completely other than overseas buyers.

  • icon

    The motivation behind Articles on here from self-interested estate agents are understood. But please remember that lawyers (or that single Lawyer, Rob) are looking after their client. You care less for the party, than does the lawyer. LAWyers are NOT going to take risks just so that YOU can have the certainty of your own fees (fees which will be 10 times or more the fee that the professions will be paid).

    Mike Lewis

    Stating the bl***ing obvious here but agents fees are, on the face of it, higher than lawyers fees because we only get paid when/if the deal completes. Maybe if lawyers fees were calculated in a similar way, deals would happen much quicker?

  • Stephen Hayter

    No move no fee since when we started business in 2001

  • icon

    Give over, M Lewis. It’s money for old rope in Estate Agents. In the scenario which is the topic of this thread, you would be urging the Buyer “don’t worry, just instruct your conveyancer to exchange contacts”. The sooner you guys & gals are Regulated in some way, the better.


    Liking your own posts is spectacularly cheesy. You clearly don't understand what a good agent does and as for the professions, the reason lawyers are so slow is not because they give a damn about their duty of care to their clients it is because they have piled their desks high with conveyancing and don't have enough time to do it properly hence the totally unnecessary delays. As someone with 36 years experience I can confidently say I have had more problems caused by the total lack of professionalism by those in the Law and surveying than I have had from junior negs without the benefit of an education but with a bloody good can do attitude and the will to get it done. Frankly most lawyers in property should hang their heads in shame.

  • Angelo  Piccirillo CEO AVRillo

    I'll add my pennies worth. 100% conveyancers will not cope. As ex estate agent turned Conveyancers my word of warning, be prepared to work closer with your conveyancer or find someone who can work with you to get your deals over the line. If they can't cope, you won't get paid.

  • icon

    No way, Angelo. High street Estate Agents bring little to the party. More Conveyancers should gatecrash while the parasites are most vulnerable.


    We agents bring little to the party? Other than the two parties paying conveyancers to complete the legal transfer?

    Honestly I wonder where the conveyancing professio woudl eb without agents selling hosues. Not everyone can just transfer property without selling it on the open market and needing us.

    As for fees, I recommended a local conveyancer who I value as a good communicator and efficent service provider. He has completed a lease extension, sale of a leashold and purchase of a freehold for my client. You can bet your bottom dollar his fee was higher than mine was for selling a £180,000 flat. Without me how would he have found that client??????


    Thanks Rachel; Clients can, if not intercepted by a referring Agent, find their own conveyancers. As for your question on comparative fees, you outline, I think, 3 separate jobs (sale, purchase, and additional lease work). If we acted in all 3 (three), separately, we may bill say £1500. You however would bill at approaching 1.5% of a sale and a purchase price which if each is £180,000 = £5,400.
    PS - a serious question, can anyone report , what was the outcome of the highly publicised review of Referral Fees of early this year? Outlawing them would be a great move.

  • Ali Baylav

    Maybe it's me, but am I missing something here?... To invigorate the housing market we need more First Time Buyers (FTBs) 👨‍🦰👩‍🦰.

    How many FTBs have got a £45k deposit making a decision not to buy because the SDLT is too high? (which incidentally was ZERO up to £300k yesterday anyway).

    ✖️ Answer = NONE.

    How many FTBs would buy a property if they had a £45k deposit and pay SDLT above £300k.

    ✔️ Answer = ALL.

    Personally, I think it would have been a lot better to offer £4bn in incentives/easy-loans for FTBs (perhaps extending Help-to-Buy across all types of property) and...

    ✔️ Answer = WE HAVE LIFT OFF 🚀

    • 09 July 2020 22:14 PM

    Yep it is the deposit issue which tends to constrain FTB.
    HTB for any residential property would be the logical thing to do.

    There simply isn't sufficient new-build stock to cope with HTB demand.
    So as per your suggestions HTB for all residential property would have EA phones ringing off the hook!!!

    It could even assist us LL desperate to sell up and get out of the broken PRS.
    A HTB deposit etc would certainly enable many aspirant FTB to buy.
    If the demand arrives I would try and use the opportunity to sell all 4 of my properties before the facility would close.

    Just need Govt to see some sense and extend HTB to any property.
    After all they want rid of LL.
    This would be a perfect situation for LL to unload their rental properties onto FTB.
    Just can't see Govt being that sensible.

    So rather than lift off we will have a damp squib!

  • icon

    Sorry for the self-like which offends Mr K. My use of this site via my quill and abacus is clumsy. As is Mr K’s deflection from the issue I raise which is that estate agents very (very) often interfere with the conveyancing process, and they do so from a position of ignorance. The big ones demand obscene referral fees and share out their ‘leads’ to the highest bidder, having withheld from Buyer/Seller the fact of payment with the line “we will get you a great quote from our preferred Conveyancer”. Great for you, alright! And if our desks are “piled high” it’s because we get £500 per pop so we need ‘em all! Oh and if we don’t have much time to do it all it’s partly because we have to waste time with your “junior negs” incessant calls asking inanely “have you exchanged yet?”
    PS - being characterised as ‘cheesy’ by an Estate Agent has cut me to the quick. I don’t know how will get thru the next Friday without bursting into tears again.

  • Matt Faizey

    This thread reminds me why all too often I hear feedback along the lines of;

    'when we went into the decision of moving home we imagined we'd be dealing with professionals. Only when it go to the physical part did we think we would have to navigate the unprofessionalism of 'blokes in vans/ nayer do-wells and charlatans' and have the worry of people we know little of come into our personal space with no guarantee of quality.

    Little did we know it would be completely thee other way around'

    There's an office in Brum with handwritten customer feedback forms for the last 22years. It's astonishing and disheartening how many echo this sentiment.

    That threads likes this come and go day in day out here and elsewhere with almost nobody referring to how the public should be treated or the affects on psyche by the process/player is telling and damning.

    A comment I've been making for years.

    I wonder if anybody has the capability or empathy to consider that behind this headline there'd be c)20,000 families heading for the last five working days of March being pressured, harried and cajoled. Facing huge pressure and monumental stress either a) because they need the saving and pee poor service means it's now at risk or b) because some agent or staff member wants their thirty quid commission and their firms fee so badly that quarter they'd destroy the process for the people involved making them move at short desperate notice.

    You all owe your living to people who deserve better and place great faith.

  • Rob Hailstone

    You occasionally raise some sensible questions Matt, but then revert to school playground comments:

    "It won't happen with all that sand around your ears however."

    "You can give a monkey the finest tools and the best equipped workshop in the land. That monkey though will still botch your engine repair."

    Pity really.

  • icon

    The type of Lawyers that Yopa tend to use will certainly not cope. They can't now because their policies of "do it cheap, pile it high" are anathema to good service, especially when they employ people who do not know what they are doing, let alone why they are doing it.

    Should Agents have concerns as to whether Solicitors will cope there is an easy answer. Only work with Solicitors who offer good service and professionalism, rather than bucket shops and factories who pay the highest fees. It is a little rich for Agents to generalise when they have effectively created those beasts by taking the dollars on offer. Then they have the gall to complain about delays in chains and poor service!

    Be careful what you wish for.

  • icon

    Stupid. What these so called Law firms should be doing is Money Laundering on their clients who are paying Cash to purchase, immediately Not 2 or 3 weeks into the Completion process costing the Vendor hundreds of wasted pounds. You so called experienced solicitor firms should start using Common sense and when you have a client wanting to buy with Cash, No Mortgage, then Check the first day that the funds are legal and identifiable!!!


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up