In July 2020, Rishi Sunak announced a stamp duty holiday until 31st March 2021, with thousands upon thousands of people rushing to take advantage of the tax break – which led to a property boom.
The stamp duty holiday means that if you buy a property priced up to £500,000, you will pay zero stamp duty – a hefty saving of up to £15,000. But, after 31st March – currently around 8 weeks away – the tax will revert to the standard rate.
To qualify, homes must be completed by the end of March, but the speed in which the system operates has slowed down – creating a backlog of cases for solicitors.
Many solicitors are warning that it is now therefore too late to complete in time to take advantage of the holiday if you haven’t already agreed a sale. Of course, this will be the case for most purchases, which often take around 12 weeks+ from offer acceptance to completion.
However, if you’re thinking of buying a property, don’t be too put off, because there are some instances where completion can be fast-tracked in as little as six weeks.
Some of the following factors will reduce the time needed to complete:
The length of the chain
If there is no upward or downward chain, your purchase won’t be as dependent on external factors or other sales going through – making it a less complex purchase. Some examples include: if you’re a first-time buyer; you’re purchasing a new build that’s ready to move in to or the person you’re buying off is moving into rented accommodation.
If you don’t need a mortgage
If you don’t require a mortgage, e.g. if you have enough cash in the bank to pay for the property outright, then this removes any potential waits from your lender. You may even decide not to have searches on the property as it isn’t a legal requirement if you are a cash buyer.
If you have a mortgage in principle already in place
On the other hand, if you do require a mortgage, then be organised. If you have a mortgage in principle in place, then this will reduce the risk of further complications down the line as you will have already passed the credit score. Of course, it would be subject to underwriting and further checks, but it does put you in a stronger position when you come to offer on a property, again speeding up the process.
If it’s a new or relatively new house
As a rule of thumb, if the property is brand-new – or less than 25-30 years – then problems are less likely to arise on a Homebuyers Report, helping things to go smoothly.
If it’s freehold
Leasehold properties tend to take a bit longer in the conveyancing process than freehold properties because there is generally more legal work to do – which means a longer timeline to completion.
If you push your solicitors
If you intend to complete by the 31st March deadline, then tell your solicitor this. They may outright say there is no chance of completion before that date, in which case, there’s not much you can do. But if they say it may be possible, then ensure that you are phoning them regularly to push the searches, surveys and reports through. Don’t forget that at KB Mortgage Services, we can support you with the process and chase on your behalf.
If you fast-track your searches
As with most things in life, it can be possible to fast-track your searches if you pay extra. Your solicitor may or may not be able to offer this depending on how many cases they have in the ‘backlog’, so you should ask them in the first instance. But for a potential £15,000 saving, it would probably be worth it.
Pay for indemnity insurance
As already explained, it is usually the searches on a property which take the most amount of time. These searches look for things which may affect the value of the property – effectively protecting your investment – such as any local development plans, the quality of the ground the house is built on, and things such as drains or access rights.
However, you can speed up the process by opting to negate these searches and by paying for indemnity insurance instead. This will cover you in the event that something goes wrong in the future. However, you would need to check with the lender if they would allow this.
If you hopeful of purchasing a property by the stamp duty deadline, contact us today to get your mortgage in principle in place – do not delay.
Note: Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments
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