Carey Gilliland

Stamp duty holiday could result in a longer transaction period.

Carey Gilliland, of Madison Oakley, takes a look at why buyers and sellers need to consider an extended transition period due to the Stamp Duty holiday.

Alongside pent up demand post lockdown and an appreciable amount of Londoners on an exodus down the M4, the stamp duty holiday is a crucial factor in creating the unseasonably strong property market we have seen in Bath since May. The SDLT relief runs until 31st March 2021. You might wonder why I’m highlighting it in October but six months isn’t such a long time when you’re dealing with a property transaction.

In order to qualify for the SDLT holiday, you need to have completed on your purchase by the deadline. Working backwards from 31/03/21 and using current average timescales, the conveyancing component of the transaction is taking upwards of 10 to 12 weeks. Given the way the calendar and Christmas falls this year, I’d expect to lose at least 2.5 weeks to the festivities so really you’ll need to be Under Offer by the second week of December to be fairly sure of completing end of March.

If you’re selling a property instead of or as well as buying, we need to also factor in average time to obtain and accept an offer (currently 4-6wks for correctly priced homes) on your own home. That additional time suggests a target date to market your property no later than the last week of October.

All of the above assumes smooth sailing with mortgages, chains, searches and so on. If you’re embroiled in a lengthy chain, the risk level increases significantly with each link added. It may be worth prioritising no chain buyers and/or empty properties to purchase to ensure you hit the required timescale for the financial saving.

In any normal year of the 20 plus I’ve worked in Bath, the property market tends to naturally quieten down in late October until mid January. Based on the above however, we might well see an aberrant lengthening of the season this year.