The moratorium on stamp duty, with no duty payable in England for homes up to the value of £500,000, would save a buyer £15,000 on a £500,000 home, with a reduced rate above that price.

Despite the government’s previous announcement that there would be no extension to the Stamp Duty (SDLT) holiday beyond March, industry experts have been speculating that the new lockdown may just change everything.

Fortunately, this time the property sale and rental business has been allowed to function as normally is it’s possible to do, in the circumstances, allowing viewings, sales and lettings to proceed, at least until the situation is reviewed again in mid February.

There is always the possibility, according to comments made by the cabinet office minister Michael Gove, that this latest lockdown may not be lifted until March, just days before the amnesty is lifted.

The cliff-edge cut-off date this situation has created has resulted in a conveyancing scramble, where solicitors and town hall searchers are being overwhelmed with work and anxious property buyers and sellers.

Although buyers are still able to agree deals, and arrange house moves, they cannot be sure that completions will go through before the 31st of March because of these backlogs and delays in the system.

Agents, surveyors and solicitors were lobbying government to extend the holiday by up to six months at the end of last year. This was when it could be argued their case was weak, with what appeared to be an improving Covid situation. Now the tables have been turned and many are optimistic that their case is strengthened.

A letter has been sent to the government on behalf of several property industry bodies by the big players in the industry, citing the compelling reasons why an extension to the moratorium would benefit the industry, the economy as a whole and importantly those people who are committed in the process of purchasing a property.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of mortgage broker, Coreco, told Property Industry Eye:

“Though the property market remains technically open, there will now be considerably more logistical issues for the simple reason that a lot of people will be working from home.

“Lenders, valuers and conveyancers are already experiencing bottlenecks and delays given the sheer amount of applications going through and the administrative upheaval caused by the latest lockdown will only serve to accentuate them.

“We would not be surprised if the Treasury makes an announcement this week about extending the Stamp Duty deadline to keep demand alive and give the property industry some much needed wiggle room.”

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