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Making sure you don’t miss out on the stamp duty holiday


Making sure you don’t miss out on the stamp duty holiday

Thanks to Covid and the high levels of demand created by the stamp duty holiday, the average time to complete a sale has risen from between 3 to 4 months to 5 to 6 months. As a result, around 100,000 sales that are currently stuck in the pipeline were predicted to miss out on the March 31st deadline. The holiday period has now been extended until 30th June for the nil rate band up to £500,000 and until 30th September for the £250,000 band. However, delays in the sales process remain and anyone planning on taking advantage of the extension period will still need to get a move on. Below is a guide to current timings and some tips on how the process can be speeded up. For the most up-to-date advice, though, just give us a call at Sears.

Mortgage offer One of the very first steps is to get a ‘mortgage in principle offer. That way you'll know exactly how much money you will have available, so you can target your search accordingly. They normally only take a few days to organise and will last for between 30 and 90 days, depending on the lender.

Appoint a solicitor This is another thing that’s worth doing at an early stage. They will be able to give you an update on how the sales process is working. Don’t just go for the cheapest option and try and avoid factory conveyancers. Instead, chose a solicitor that is both efficient and responsive, as it will cost you considerably more if you miss out on the stamp duty deadline.

Deposit Ensure you have the appropriate funds ready and available.

If you are selling You’ll need to wait until you’ve got a firm offer on your existing home before making an offer on a new one. To avoid any unnecessary delays on your onward purchase, get all the relevant paperwork ready in advance for the property you’re selling. This should include:

  1. Proof of identity-check
  2. EPC
  3. Property Title Deeds
  4. Property Information Form (TA6)
  5. Fittings and contents (TA10)
  6. FENSA Certificates for any replacement windows and doors
  7. Gas and electrical safety certificates, where appropriate
  8. Relevant planning permissions and building control documents
  9. Leasehold and Freehold details
  10. Management Information Packs for leasehold properties – depending on how efficient your freeholder is, obtaining these can sometimes cause considerable delays, so make sure your solicitor requests these as early as possible.

Finding your perfect home

How long will it take? The average time to find the right property ranges between 4 and 12 weeks, with the majority of people viewing at least six properties before committing(source: What Mortgage). But remember, these are only averages. You may find your perfect property on day one, or it may take considerably longer.

Once your offer is accepted

Surveys If you want a survey, don’t delay. Commission one the moment your offer is accepted, as they are currently taking between6-7 weeks to complete. And, if they unearth any issues, these may need to be resolved before you can exchange. There are three types of survey to choose from: Home Condition Report (the cheapest), the HomeBuyer Report (mid-price), and the Building Survey (the most expensive).

Mortgage valuation and formal offer Timings for this are double what they would normally be. Mortgage offers are currently takingbetween2 and 6 weeks for a straight-forward purchase but can take even longer if there are any queries raised by the lender. A good broker can usually speed things along and can also help smooth out any problems.

Conveyancing: One of the biggest areas of concern are Local authority searches. They are currently taking far longer than the usual 7-14 days. Timings vary hugely from one local authority to another. Most are currently turning them around in under 40 days but there are reports of delays of anything up to 10 weeks. It’s therefore extremely important you ask your solicitor to order one the moment your sale is agreed.  Be aware, though, the results are only valid for three months, so they will need to be redone if the rest of the sales process drags on too long. Search insurance is an option if timings get too tight.

Some general points During a purchase, there are a lot of requests for information flying around and one of the biggest causes of delays are slow responses from both buyers and sellers. Make sure you review, fill out, sign and return all documents quickly and efficiently. There is also no harm in chasing up the various parties to make sure everything else is happening in a timely fashion.


Agreeing a completion date Typically, completion takes place one or two weeks after exchange but, in certain circumstances, itcan take place on the same day. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the appropriate course of action.

Deposit Try not to leave the transfer of your deposit to your solicitor until the last minute.

Removals Like most areas of the property industry, removals companies are busy at the moment, so book yours as soon as you have a confirmed completion date.


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