Stamp duty cliff edge – are you about to hit the wall?

If the busy property market and the stamp duty holiday was like running a marathon, most involved in the home buying and selling process are now about to hit the wall. When you see marathon runners on TV and their legs turn to jelly and they stumble and crawl, more often than not another competitor will help them up and carry them across the line. With just over three weeks to go, that is what is needed now. All parties, conveyancers, agents, lenders, removers etc., need to pull together.

I can only summarise some of the additional challenges conveyancers now face, agents, lenders and removers will have their own unique set.

For example, some lenders are now saying that if a conveyancer requires the mortgage advance monies on the 29th June for completion on the 30th, they need to submit the request no later than 21st. In practice that request should not really be submitted until exchange has (or is about) to take place. That means that some of those transactions that might not exchange until after the 21st are vulnerable.

Another issue facing conveyancers (and agents) is making sure that their clients can physically move on the 30th before committing them to a legally binding completion date.

I have been told that some removers are not taking bookings unless exchange has actually taken place. Others are operating 50% on booking as deposit for the back half of June. No refunds, no transfers. Another policy is that from the 21st to 30th June inclusive, all, pre-paid (in full) bookings only. Again, no refunds, no transfers. Many van hire businesses are already booked out completely to the end of June and have even had people ask them if they can hire minibuses to move furniture!

It is going to get worse before it gets better. I think that working together, constructively, is now more important than it has ever been in the five decades I have been involved in the home buying and selling process. Even with those decades under my belt, it is difficult to offer any real practical help or advice.

However, not everyone will hit the end of June deadline despite the best efforts of those involved. Managing your clients’ expectations is one thing I am sure you are all already doing.

Rob Hailstone is CEO of Bold Legal Group. 


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  1. mattfaizey

    The reasoning and logic behind movers doing this is as follows;

    There have been many instances in the past where one party has made more than one booking with more than one mover. Normally this type of practice happens around end August, or end March etc. When demands exceeds supply on this scale movers won’t be messed around.

    Moreover, we learned from March.

    Movers experienced in some instances verbal abuse from people when they were told ‘we’re full’ or indeed ‘your booking cannot be held any longer without deposit’.

    Moreover, the period May 18th to end March, culminating in the back end of March cost movers dearly. The overwhelming workload broke them physically, mentally and overworked their vehicles and resources.

    This time around many have learned that for June, they can afford to run things less stressfully. In many instances reducing capacity slightly, raising rates, forcing solid bookings only and ensuring a much less stressful cliff-edge.

    It’s worth knowing and thinking about for example how to handle the situation whereby a client can’t physically move.
    The bottom end of the movers are more & more operating the reverse dutch auction system of booking in more than they can handle (no deposits taken etc etc) and then only showing up to what they fancy or what is most profitable. A firm might book up to 3x what they can actually achieve. As the work appears they ratchet up rates and all the earlier work simply gets kicked out. Sometimes a day before or even on the day itself.
    It’s always been the case that last week of each financial quarter this happens but I fear June ‘21 could really see this become prominent. We saw one instance last week where our clients buyer tried to not send funds as their mover hadn’t showed up.
    Conveyancers regularly tell clients not to pay anything to a mover without having exchanged.

    Might be time to consider that you’re advising your client to enter the risk zone of having exchanged with no physical method of moving house.

    Forr in June, supply will nowhere near meet demand.

    1. mattfaizey

      It’s also worth bearing in mind that the smarter movers are cherry picking the earlier parts of the chain. Why bother risking your crew finishing late by moving somebody 4th in a chain of five who doesn’t get key release until 16:00? Not when you can cherry pick the party out of rental, or second in chain and have your crew home at a sensible time. Also worth bearing in mind that ‘front door open by’ times will get ruthlessly enforced in this market too. Don’t imagine movers will sit outside houses for four hours waiting for keys in a market they are working flat out in. They’re unlikely to risk keeping a vehicle loaded overnight that they absolutely need the following day, so will ensure they can offload into storage within sensible hours too. They will have to make that call at a sensible time where it looks like a customer might not get in that day.
      Moreover know from the last year or so that their employees deserve the sensible finishes in a market where they’re working flat-out.


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