Around 140,000 more home buyers waiting to complete sales than usual – report

The home buying system is under pressure as around 140,000 more people are waiting to complete the process than this time last year, according to a report.

Zoopla estimates that there are 418,000 sales in the pipeline across the UK which are yet to be completed. These sales are worth a total of £112 billion.

Buyers are looking to snap up properties before a stamp duty holiday ends on March 31 2021. Stamp duty applies in England and Northern Ireland, but similar temporary tweaks have been made to the equivalent property taxes in Scotland and Wales.

Zoopla also had a warning for those hoping to enter the market early next year and take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director, Zoopla, said: “Those who leave it to January to start their search for a home will be cutting it fine – just half of sales agreed in January will convert into a completed sale by the end of March so those looking to beat the stamp duty deadline will need to be well prepared.

“Finding an agent before Christmas and instructing a conveyancer to prepare all the sellers legal information will be essential to boosting the chances of saving up to £15,000.”

Zoopla’s report highlighted the case of 28-year-old Amy Williams who said the stamp duty holiday has been crucial to her securing a flat in Camberwell, London.

Ms Williams is hoping to exchange on the one bedroom flat before mid-November and is set to save £4,000 in stamp duty costs.

Amy Williams
Home buyer Amy Williams said the timing of the stamp duty holiday could not have been better for her (Zoopla/PA)

She said: “The timing couldn’t have been better and, without the SDLT (stamp duty land tax) relief, I wouldn’t have been able to afford my property.

“If anything goes awry with the sale now, and if the vendor were to withdraw, I’d be back to square one and very nervous about being able to find a new property and complete in time to beat the stamp duty deadline at the end of March.”

Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, said: “Whilst there has been a notable uptick in activity across every branch, this has been particularly prevalent in the South East, with Chichester and Dorking featuring amongst the locations which saw the highest volume of new offers on properties.

“The savings buyers can make from the SDLT holiday coupled with the pent up demand from the housing market’s closure, has resulted in a surge in transactions. This has stress tested the entire home buying system; agents have been working at full capacity, mortgage advisers are experiencing delays with lenders and conveyancers are under severe pressure.

“Those looking to exchange ahead of the SDLT deadline on the March 31 should look to have an agreed offer in place by December at the latest.”

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