Whilst the house buying process was initially put on hold during the first national lockdown, once restrictions were lifted things have been a bit manic to put it mildly - and our residential lawyers are very busy helping people complete their house sales and purchases.
The increase in transactions appears to be as a result of a combination a number of factors including completing transactions that were paused by the lockdown, and a general increase is people’s desire to move home leading to an upturn in the housing market.
This may have been due in part as a result of being stuck in a house which they no longer loved or did not work for them anymore.
This demand has been fuelled further by the “Stamp Duty Holiday” meaning that there is increased pressure to get these transactions completed before 31st March 2021. Whilst there have been some calls for this date to be extended, it appears unlikely. The stakes are high because completing before 31st March will save some people considerable sums of money.
The so called “holiday”, is in fact a temporary raising of the Stamp Duty Land Tax nil rate threshold from £125,000 to £500,000. An example of the savings this will bring is that someone buying for £248,000 will save £2,460 in stamp duty if they complete before 31st March. This does not apply to second homes where the additional 3% stamp duty is still payable.
There are a number of obstacles or challenges that can hold up the process and clients can be frustrated because they do not necessarily know what is going on behind the scenes. These delays can be caused by:
- Local Authority searches taking longer than anticipated
- Answers to enquires throwing up unforeseen issues
- Delays with valuations, leading to delayed mortgage offers
- Long chains and reliance on other transactions
- Solicitors having to work from home
Delays can also be caused by the seller not having all of the necessary documentation or information in place to complete Pre-Contract Enquires. Therefore if you are selling, you can help by ensuring that you get together all your key documents – even before you have found a buyer. These might include:-
- Planning permissions
- Building Regulations consents
- NHBC or New Build warranty documentation
- Certificate relating to replacement windows, rewiring, gas safety, boilers, wood burners etc
- Any guarantees or warranties
- Septic tank reports and certification
- If leasehold – management company information and service charge documents.
It is realistically too late to start the house buying process now in order to complete before 31st March, but whenever you are looking complete, you can help by not being the party that causes any unnecessary hold ups. This will help to save you time, money and stress!
Published 21 January 2021
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