The week between Christmas and New Year is a strange one: sometimes it’s relaxed and worry-free, sometimes it’s downright boring, and sometimes it can bring bubbling anxieties about the year just passed and the new one fast approaching.
However we’re feeling, this week is one where a lot of us start browsing the property portals, thinking, or fantasizing, about a new home. In the property world, it’s sometimes called the Boxing Day Boom – it happens every year.
This year, however, things are slightly different. The UK housing market has seen an unusually busy end to the year due entirely to the Covid-inspired Stamp Duty Holiday introduced by the government. The holiday promises tax discounts of up to £15,000 for homebuyers and is due to come to and end in March. So is there still time to take advantage?
A Stamp Duty Holiday extension?
The first thing to look at is the deadline – will it be extended beyond March?
The answer is maybe, but nothing has been announced yet. The government certainly has precedent in extending deadlines – they have already extended the furlough scheme once and are looking likely to extend it again, so, with the added complications of more national lockdowns and spiking virus cases, it is highly likely that the holiday will be extended.
The government needs the housing market to keep moving through good times and bad – it is vital to the health of our economy. Now that a Brexit ‘deal’ has been made, the Tories will likely want the nation to appear strong, hopeful, and strong. Extending the stamp duty holiday will help keep the market flowing through difficult times, so it won’t be a surprise to hear news of an extension announced soon.
It’s also vital to remember that Stamp Duty has never applied to first-time buyers, so if you’re buying your first home, there is no reason to worry about missing the deadline.
Is There Still Time?
We’re hopeful that the scheme will be extended, but if it is not, where does that leave you?
It leaves you with 12 weeks (ish) to buy a new home. 12 weeks to find, negotiate, and complete the purchase of a brand new home. This isn’t a long time.
There are widely-reported backlogs in the conveyancing process at the moment – there is currently such high demand from homebuyers and sellers that we’re struggling to find the legal professionals to handle all the work – which means sales are taking longer than they should.
This means that 12 weeks, which is never a generous amount of time for buying a home. Is even tighter than usual. But is it an impossible task? No, not at all.
If you can identify the home you want to buy, and you have the finances (or mortgage) in place for a purchase, you can significantly slash the buying timeline. But, buying on the open market is still unpredictable and you can still get stuck in a chain which will completely mess with your timeline.
Alternative routes to purchase
If you’re feeling really pushed for time but desperately want to buy a new home before the Stamp Duty holiday ends, you might need to think about alternative routes to purchase.
You may well need to sell your current home before you can afford to buy a new one, so you need a quick sale. Sales don’t get much quicker than fast-sale platforms. They will buy your home for about 85% of the market value and the whole thing will be done in a few weeks, leaving you free to buy your new home and gain the great stamp duty savings.
Another option is auction. If you need to buy quickly, or sell quickly, take a look at our auction page and see if it might be the right avenue for you.
While auctions bring their own unique risks, they also bring great opportunities for the right kind of buyers and sellers. Most importantly, they are incredibly fast and efficient. Your purchase or sale should be completed within four weeks which gives you plenty of time before the stamp duty holiday expires.
So, in short, yes, 12 weeks is more than enough time to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, you just need to get the ball rolling today, not tomorrow, and not the day after.