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GUEST BLOG: Stamp duty holiday has exposed industry’s ‘progression problem’

Property search firm chief pulls few punches as he exposes how buyer and vendor expectations are often poorly managed by agents.

Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

cliff-edge stamp duty

It is amazing to see so much chatter and debate about the Stamp Duty or SDLT deadline and how everyone is going to make it; whether it should be extended or feathered out or remain a ‘cliff edge’.

But everyone has forgotten that every property transaction has a ‘cliff edge’ irrespective of SDLT, that is invariably overlooked.

Each time a sale is agreed, both sides have expectations of timescale.

These can be based around change of job, pregnancy due date, celebration date, bank holiday, summer holiday, change of school, Christmas, availability of a removal company or whatever.

Unfortunately, these expectations are invariably ignored or seen as something to be negotiated.

Reverted to type

As the SDLT deadline has shown, the industry has reverted to type and set out to negotiate the end date, rather than doing more to prepare transactions to hit the deadline.

But there is so much more that the property sector can do to help the situation and better prepare clients for their move and enable them to meet with their own deadlines.

If home movers had a better understanding of what needed to be achieved, they may be in a better place to agree that their own deadlines are not realistic, overcoming any need to play the negotiation game, given that everyone is looking at the same data.

Knowing your conveyancer and seeing how long transactions are taking in an area should be an indicator for estate agents to STOP telling your local market that a completion by the SDLT deadline is achievable.

But I am still seeing agents using the SDLT relief as a marketing strategy to garner new business, which is terribly sad to see, let alone unprofessional.

Chase a sale

Many agents will start to ‘chase a sale’ asking a conveyancer what is going on, when their own client is yet to even instruct them formally or complete their protocol forms or sign a client care letter, let alone put them in funds.

Many of those clients will also believe that the conveyancer will start their transaction as soon as they give them verbal consent and a memorandum of sale has gone out.

“Surely the conveyancer will request a contract from the vendor before I have sent them my paperwork, it’s in their best interest isn’t it?” No, it’s not. They will only work for the clients who have actually instructed them.

Given that estate agents can have a conversation with their clients about expectation of timescale at the point of valuation, why does that not happen as soon as they make the decision to come to the market?

The SDLT ‘cliff edge’ is not unique. Deadlines exist every day in every transaction and these deadlines are not going away, ever.

property search stamp duty

Change and better preparation has to be taken seriously or the industry will never make strides to become a profession and estate agents will continue to argue with conveyancers about why things should go faster.

Daniel Hamilton-Charlton (pictured) is a director at Birmingham-based firm Property Searches Direct.

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