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UK property sales poised to fall off a cliff if buyers miss stamp duty holiday deadline

Buyers could be forced to cancel property purchases if they miss the stamp duty holiday due to heavy backlog. Photo: Getty.
Buyers could be forced to cancel property purchases if they miss the stamp duty holiday due to heavy backlog. Photo: Getty

Backlogs in the property market are causing severe delays for home buyers, leaving many of them to regret deciding to buy at all, according to research by home buying platform Yes Homebuyers.

Almost two fifths of buyers said they would have to cancel their purchase if they missed the stamp duty holiday deadline in March, the survey of 3,717 current UK homebuyers found.

Over a quarter of buyers said they regretted their decision to buy and would have waited for the backlog to clear had they known.

Almost a quarter (24%) saw their sales fall through due to the buildup.

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Founder of Yes Homebuyers, Matthew Cooper, said: “As with most poorly thought out government rescue plans, the stamp duty holiday has done an outstanding job of fuelling demand, while completely neglecting how the market will actually deal with such an uplift.

“Although the idea of a stamp duty saving would have been a tantalising one, many buyers are now finding themselves stuck in market limbo, facing more stress, long delays, temporary living arrangements, or having to place a higher offer. All for a few thousand saved in tax.

“At Yes Homebuyers, we’ve seen the current backlog spur a flurry of enquiries. Some have been financially dependent on their sale completing before the end of March, but most just want the stability of a concrete timeframe.”

The stamp duty holiday was introduced in July of last year to boost the property market during the coronavirus pandemic. The relief increased the starting threshold of residential stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000 until 31 March 2021.

However, 45% of those surveyed said they would prefer to pay the stamp duty rather than being caught up in the current backlog.

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Over one third of buyers caught up in the delays have had to increase their offer to keep the seller from cancelling the sale, while over a quarter said they would be forced to borrow more money to pay for the stamp duty were they to miss the deadline.

More than two thirds of delayed buyers claim the backlog has increased their stress levels in an already stressful process and one third have had to find alternative living arrangements while they wait.

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