Rightmove says 650,000 property sales are now waiting to move to completion, 67% higher than the same time last year.
The portal says mortgage lenders, valuers and solicitors now face an unprecedented tsunami of transactions to process, of which two thirds will be hoping to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday that cuts off on 31st March next year.
The other third are those who are stamp duty exempt anyway, such as purchasers of properties under £125,000 and first time buyers.
“This ongoing activity means that the processing log-jam continues to pile up because of the sheer number trying to reach the finish line by the end of March,” says Tim Bannister (pictured), Rightmove’s Director of Property Data. “Millions of people are on tenterhooks until their sale or purchase has completed.”
His data also reveals that sales agreed in the higher end of the market where stamp duty savings are the most significant have doubled year-on-year and also seen the number of days it takes to find a buyer drop to a record low of 59 days.
But sales agreed in the £100,000 to £200,000 sales band, where stamp duty savings are minimal, increased by just 16%.
Unusually for such a busy period, asking prices have dipped during November by 0.5%, which suggests vendors are accepting lower offers in order to get a sale and be able to purchase their next home before the stamp duty cut-off.
North London agent Jeremy Leaf (pictured), says: “Nearly all [home movers] are acutely aware that delays in arranging mortgages, valuations and conveyancing will mean meeting the 31 March deadline won’t be easy, even if deals are agreed in the next few weeks.”