Two of the most outspoken agents in the industry have criticised those calling for an extension to the stamp duty holiday - with one accusing agents of “feigning hysterics.”
Yesterday the momentum for an extension to the current March 31 deadline grew stronger, with an online petition in support of the move reaching over 75,000 supporters and the Daily Telegraph launching its Stamp Out The Duty campaign, aiming to persuade Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the deadline.
The Telegraph’s campaign launch article recruited support from industry heavyweights including TV market commentator Phil Spencer, Hunters chief executive officer Glynis Frew, and Beth Rudolf of the Conveyancing Association.
But on Twitter outspoken buying agent Henry Pryor poured scorn on the Telegraph campaign saying: “ *sigh* In the midst of a pandemic extending the Stamp Duty holiday is front page news over at the Telegraph.”
The industry figures quoted in the article spoke of what they saw as the need for the market to keep faith with buyers who committed to a purchase well ahead of the deadline.
However, Pryor questioned this by saying: “See if you can find just ONE contributor whose business doesn’t benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday.”
Separately Russell Quirk - a Keller Williams franchise holder and head of PR firm Properganda - says the holiday has had a clear and positive effect on the market but he has accused some of those calling for an extension of “feigning hysterics”.
He says the view is justified by a poll of over 1,000 homebuyers stating that only 29 per cent had been inspired to move because of the stamp duty holiday - thus showing 71 per cent were not.
He adds: “Whilst agents may be screaming at [Chancellor] Sunak on the TV, pleading for him to extend the tax relief, they should take comfort in the fact that it appears the market will stay strong regardless.”
Quirk continues: “There are some people suggesting that all of the 250,000 transactions currently in the UK property pipeline will fall through the instant we reach midnight on April 1. This is bonkers and wrong. Even if the stamp duty holiday does end as currently scheduled, many of those transactions will have completed and 30 per cent of those which haven’t will be first time buyers who are exempt from SDLT anyway.
“Therefore those who are feigning hysterics that everything in the pipeline are being swept along by media hyperbole.”
Meanwhile three prominent conveyancing organisations have now reiterated their call for an extension of the holiday.
The Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Conveyancing Association and the Bold Legal Group - who combined represent law firms that undertake the majority of home sales and purchases in England and Wales - wrote to the Chancellor back in November seeking an extension, but say now that the lockdown and continuing delays in handling transactions add to the urgency of their request.
Bold Legal Group founder Rob Hailstone says: “Our members are seriously concerned about the impact that the ‘cliff edge’ effect of the March 31 removal of the SDLT benefit will have. Many of their clients are saying that they will withdraw from their purchases if they do not complete by March 31, causing chains to collapse and seriously damaging the property market.
“The consequences will particularly effect those who are involved in ‘must move’ transactions. The attendant waste of time and money, and the impact of stress on people already struggling with the effects of Covid is entirely avoidable by the government extending the SDLT holiday and introducing a tapering off of the scheme in coming months.”