Estate agents, surveyors and solicitors are being encouraged to continue pleading with the government to extend the existing stamp duty holiday by a further six months, as buyers rush to beat the 31 March deadline.
The Guild of Property Professionals, along with other industry bodies, has been lobbying the government to extend the stamp duty holiday on behalf of both consumers and the property sector.
A letter has already been sent to the government with the backing of several industries bodies and major players in the industry citing the reasons why the extension would benefit the industry, the economy and most importantly people in the process of purchasing a property.
Now, in a bid to up the ante, The Guild has provided its members with another letter that they can address to their local MPs in an effort to increase pressure on the government to extend the tax break.
Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, said: “We are hoping to use our influence as a large network to help persuade the government to push back the deadline date because of the high number of transactions currently in the pipeline that won’t make the cut off due to delays. Consumers should not be penalised for the delays currently experienced in the property buying process that they have no control over.”
While the letter, which you can see below, has been sent to Guild member agents, it is also available to all agents if they wish.
“We are encouraging all agents to either use the letter we have drafted or to draft their own letter to their local MP in support of the extension of the holiday. If the sector works together in support of a common goal, there is far more chance that the government will act, and act quickly, which is what is needed,” said McKenzie.
He warns that the property sector and related services are not equipped to be able to process the vast volumes of transactions before the cut off and many consumers run the risk of missing out on the tax break.
He added: “If the deadline remains as it is, only a quarter of the sales agreed in January will complete in time. According to Zoopla there are approximately 140,000 more people waiting to complete sales than this time last year, so there will be a significant number of buyers who will have to find additional money for Stamp Duty if they have not budgeted for it.
“If buyers are unable to complete as a result of not having the stamp duty money in place, we will see a large number of transactions fall through as a result.
“Our hope is that the government extends that Stamp Duty holiday for another six months, or at the very least introduces a phasing out period that will ease the pressure on all parties involved, and will prevent a cliff edge. “If the sector is successful in lobbying the Government, the result would have a positive impact for the industry and consumers, as well as the greater economy.”
The template letter to local MPs is below, which agents can copy and paste.
Dear [MPs Name]
Extension of [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday is paramount to avoid the breakdown of property chains
On behalf of the property sector and our customers who are in the process of purchasing a property, I seek to impress upon you the importance of extending the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday deadline to avoid the breakdown in property chains and provide more time for our customers to complete their property transactions.
Delays are beyond our customers’ control
Pent-up demand from Brexit and Lockdown has created a surge of activity in the housing market since reopening in May 2020. The [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, as well as the termination of the existing Help to Buy Scheme added further fuel to the fire, with people who perhaps weren’t in a rush to move, bringing forward their plans to find a new home. As a result of the pent-up demand and sense of urgency created in the market with people pushing to get their transactions completed by the deadline, despite the property market being in lockdown for two months, the overall volumes of transactions are expected to be greater than those seen last year.
Currently, conveyancers are dealing with record volumes of transactions, which has delayed the process. Mortgage applications, surveys and local searches are also all taking significantly longer as a result of the high volumes of transactions. There have been reports that pipeline conversations (exchanges) in recent months are as low as 9%, they should be triple that. This is resulting in more and more sales that are stagnating and not progressing, with the average property transaction time lengthening from 12 weeks to 20 weeks.
The industry does not have the capacity to deal with the volumes of transactions that need to be processed within the timeframe of the deadline. According to Zoopla, there are around 140,000 more people waiting to complete sales compared with this time last year, however, only a quarter of transactions (based on sales agreed in January) will complete by March. Data from TwentyCI reveals that approximately 325,000 buyers with a Sale Agreed from September 2020 to January 2021 will miss out on the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday.
Our customers should not be penalised as a result of the delays currently being experienced within the sector that are beyond their control. A delay that could result in our customers having to pay up to an additional £15,000 on the purchase of their property.
Breakdown in property chains
Another concern is that buyers will continue to offer on properties expecting to benefit from the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] rate reduction but in reality, they may already be too late. Failure to complete transactions before 31 March 2021 could see the breakdown of chains with buyers potentially financially unable to continue with the purchase, as they would not have budgeted for the additional expense of paying [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax]. An extension would ensure that many more transactions would be able to complete without the risk of falling through.
Additionally, significant stress will be removed from all parties involved. It will also save money that would be lost if the transaction falls through. Money that would have been spent on things during the property buying process such as surveys and the like will also be lost if the property falls through.
Extension of the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday
We urge the Government to consider extending the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday by a further six months to reduce the risk to the consumer. We also propose that the Government work with the industry to develop a method to help smooth the end of an extended [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] holiday to prevent a cliff edge in the property market.
Swift action by the Government will ease the pressure on both our customers and the industry, allowing more transactions to complete, avoiding possible break downs in property chains and a distressing period for movers. Any extension or gradual phasing of the [Stamp Duty / Land Transaction Tax] would also assist in lessening a possible sharp decline in consumer demand, which would have a knock-on effect on the greater economy. The housing market is intrinsically tied to the economy’s health with homemovers spending £12 billion a year on home-related purchases excluding property purchase and transaction costs. Moving home has many advantages to other aspects of the economy, so action taken by the Government to energise the property market will have a positive impact on the financial health of the country as a whole.