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Concerns Rise as Stamp Duty Holiday Cliff Edge Nears

Are the Six-Week Stamp Duty Holiday Extension Rumours True?

Around 100,000 homebuyers will not complete their property purchases before the impending Stamp Duty Holiday deadline on 31 March and will be hit with bigger than expected tax bills as a result. This will lead to a large number of sales falling through, industry experts predict.

Rightmove, one of the UK’s leading property portals, currently estimates that 100,000 buyers who agreed a purchase last year are set to miss out if the current stamp duty discount period ‘cliff-edge’ is not extended from the next month’s deadline of the 31st March.

There is currently a huge backlog of property sales stuck in a logjam of conveyancing and mortgage delays due to the popularity of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) discount initiative. This is because homebuyers who complete before the deadline can save £1000s on their purchase costs. In fact, according to Rightmove, there are an estimated 412,000 sales still currently in the legal process that were agreed last year across Great Britain. 

It’s not all last minute deals that are stuck in the logjam either, as Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister explains: “The delays we’ve seen in the home-moving process have been through no fault of the buyers and sellers who agreed a sale last year and who are now desperately trying to get their deals over the line. The delays have been a result of the huge number trying to go through, along with the many challenges of the people involved in the process working from home.”

Added to Rightmove’s predictions, signs that the Stamp Duty Holiday cliff edge will hit the property market hard have also been revealed by the house price index that uses data to predict house price changes early, before purchases have completed. House move price comparison website Reallymoving’s analysis of almost 21,000 conveyancing quote forms completed over the last three months shows that house prices are set to drop sharply in April.

According to Reallymoving’s early snapshot data, which up to now has closely tracked UK Land Registry Price Paid data, shows average house prices in England and Wales will fall by 4.1 per cent in April, in ‘the first clear glimpse of the stamp duty holiday cliff edge and its impact on the value of deals already agreed by buyers and sellers’.

According to their analysis, as the likelihood of meeting the deadline has decreased, so have prices, with buyers in January ‘clearly factoring in the cost of a stamp duty bill’, reducing their affordability and the price they’re willing to pay.

Reallymoving is seeing signs that house prices are rapidly readjusting back down to levels seen twelve months ago, as the stamp duty holiday end looms and the post-lockdown rush to move home subsides, with prices falling by 2.5 per cent in February, 2.6 per cent in March and 4.1 per cent in April 2021. It predicts, homebuyers who agreed deals earlier and may not complete in time are likely to attempt to renegotiate, or split the cost across the chain, further impacting prices.

In addition, consumer confidence is being impacted by uncertainty over the end of the current national lockdown – and concern over job losses when the furlough scheme finally ends.

Rob Houghton, CEO of reallymoving, comments: “Now, for the first time, we can see the early impact of the end of the stamp duty holiday on prices, with buyers in January agreeing to pay less as they factor in the cost of a tax bill.

“Others who agreed deals earlier will still be hoping to make the deadline, and it’s likely we’ll see a sharp rise in fall- throughs in early April, as well as gazundering, which could impact final sale prices further if sellers are agreeable to spreading the cost – and many will be, rather than see their deal fall flat.”


Rumoured six week stamp duty holiday extension could save buyers up to £1 billion

However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for homebuyers stuck in the transaction logjam if the rumoured six-week extension to the STLT holiday is true. Rightmove estimates that if the stamp duty holiday deadline was extended for the rumoured six weeks, it would mean between 120,000 and 160,000 additional property transactions in England could benefit from the SDLT discount, saving homebuyers a potential £1 billion.

The extension would also mean the vast majority of sales that were agreed by the end of 2020 would complete in time to save on stamp duty.

Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister said: “We know the stamp duty holiday was intended as a temporary stimulus for the market, but the delays we’ve seen in the home-moving process have been through no fault of the buyers and sellers who agreed a sale last year and who are now desperately trying to get their deals over the line. If there was a six week extension it should give the majority of the sales from last year the chance to complete in time.” 

We agree, a short extension to the SDLT holiday would come as a welcome relief to many homebuyers who are desperately trying to get their purchase through the conveyancing logjam.

But will the rumoured extension actually happen?


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Alex Wright, Editor