The stamp-duty stampede

There has been a surge in people wanting to move house before the stamp duty holiday ends next year.

If you want to avoid paying stamp duty on your next property purchase you need to get a move on: there has been a surge in people keen to move.

“Between 8 July and 8 August, the number of people registering to buy across the country was up by 38% on the same period last year, boosted by the stamp duty holiday,” says Hilary Osborne in The Guardian.

Properties are going under offer faster than ever. One in seven homes are under offer within a week of listing, according to Rightmove.

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But things slow down after that. “A ‘conveyancing log-jam’ after lockdown means that even if a sale is agreed quickly, a transaction could take six months to complete, especially if it is in a chain,” says Melissa Lawford in The Daily Telegraph.

“People thinking of coming to market really need to do so in September or early October if they want to have a chance of completing with enough time to beat the stamp duty deadline,” says Miles Shipside from Rightmove.

Stamp duty is currently suspended on properties worth up to £500,000, saving buyers as much as £15,000. However, the tax will be reinstated on 31 March 2021.

“The stamp duty holiday has accelerated the moves of buyers who were looking for larger properties with gardens and space for home offices,” says Lawford.

But the surge is expected to subside as unemployment rises with the end of the furlough scheme and “lenders wind down their forbearance policies this autumn”.

With the housing market rising quickly post-lockdown wise buyers may opt not to rush to embrace the stamp-duty holiday.

“Racing simply to save 1%-3% on the cost of your next home at a time when house prices (according to Nationwide) are up 2% on last month and 3.7% on last year is futile,” says Carol Lewis in The Sunday Times.

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance. 

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.