Zoopla says home movers looking to exchange ahead of the stamp duty deadline on the 31st March should have an agreed offer and conveyancing under way by December ‘at the latest’.
The portal’s data team says that even if it was a normal year, buyers would run varying degrees of risk depending on how close to the cut off date they agreed a sale, but that extreme pressures on the conveyancing system are extending completion dates.
Zoopla says 97% of sales agreed now would normally make it through to completion by 31st March, while 92% will complete in time if they agree a sales in November, and 81% in December.
But only 25% of those agreeing a sale after the Xmas break would normally get their homes over the line to completion by 31st January, or 54% of those who agree a sales in January, 17% in February and just 3% in March.
“The savings buyers can make from the stamp duty holiday coupled with the pent up demand from the housing market’s closure, has resulted in a surge in transactions,” says Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops (left).
“This has stress tested the entire home buying system; agents have been working at full capacity, mortgage advisors are experiencing delays with lenders and conveyancers are under severe pressure.”
Richard Donnell, Research and Insight Director at Zoopla, says: “Those who leave it to January to start their search for a home will be cutting it fine – just half of sales agreed in January will convert into a completed sale by the end of March so those looking to beat the stamp duty deadline will need to be well prepared.”
Given these problems, the industry has today called on the Chancellor to modify or extend the stamp duty holiday.