Industry reacts to rumoured SDLT extension

Jake Carter

February 16, 2021

The rumoured stamp duty holiday extension could save buyers up to £1bn, according to Rightmove.

It has been suggested that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering a six-week extension to the tax holiday.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Sunak said: “A lot of people would be caught in the completion trap if the holiday were to end when it is due to.”

Rightmove estimates that if the deadline is extended by six weeks, between 120,000 and 160,000 additional property transactions in England could benefit from the tax saving.

In addition, the extension would mean the vast majority of sales that were agreed by the end of 2020 would complete in time to save on stamp duty.

There are an estimated 412,000 sales still currently in the legal process that were agreed last year across Great Britain.

Tim Bannister, property expert at Rightmove, said: “We know the stamp duty holiday was intended as a temporary stimulus for the market, but the delays we’ve seen in the home-moving process have been through no fault of the buyers and sellers who agreed a sale last year and who are now desperately trying to get their deals over the line.

“The delays have been a result of the huge number trying to go through, along with the many challenges of the people involved in the process working from home.

“If there was a six-week extension it should give the majority of the sales from last year the chance to complete in time.”

Vic Jannels, chief executive at the ASTL expresses his pleasure in the Chancellor listening to voices from the industry by considering providing an extension to the deadline.

He said: “If there is an extension, it will provide peace of mind for many thousands of homebuyers and prevent the needless abortion of transactions, which would be bad for customers and bad for businesses.”

However, Jannels outlined that if the cut-off date is extended and not phased out, then the same issues will reoccur.

He added: “Simply changing the cut-off date will not resolve the problem.

“There needs to be a phased transition and possibly an agreement that cases formally offered before the 31 March have additional time in which to complete”

Meanwhile, O’Neill Patient takes the more pessimistic approach and warns that homebuyers must prepare for stamp duty holiday disappointment.

The conveyance noted that it is important to manage buyers’ expectations as the chance of completing transactions before the stamp duty holiday cut-off date for some buyers is slim.

Andy Scaife, chief executive at ONP Group, said: “Some clients are understandably disappointed that they are likely to miss the stamp duty deadline.

“For some time now, we have been doing our best to manage buyers’ expectations by letting them know what the stamp duty charge will be if they cannot complete by 31 March.

“Whilst we will try to do everything we can to complete as many of those transactions in our pipeline, it is better to know now rather than on the day of completion so at least they can try to make some preparations to cover the extra cost, should it arise.”

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