To benefit from stamp duty holiday people should start search by 1st November

Homeowners planning to take advantage of the current stamp duty holiday should begin their journey by 1st November or risk missing out, according to Legal & General Mortgage Club.

The market is currently subject to a number of delays, meaning transactions take longer to go through than normal.

The stamp duty holiday affects the first £500,000 of a property’s value, while it will be in place until 31st March 2021.

Kevin Roberts, director, Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “The government’s stamp duty holiday has helped to encourage many hopeful buyers to press ahead with their homeownership plans, providing a much-needed boost to the economy.

“However, those wishing to take advantage of the ‘holiday’ will need to plan carefully to avoid missing the March 2021 deadline, particularly if they have their own property to sell first. Buyers should speak to a mortgage adviser when creating a plan as these professionals understand how to navigate the ongoing changes to the mortgage and homebuying process.”

“As homebuyers rush to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, policy makers need to consider if a tapering of the stamp duty deadline is needed instead of a hard deadline. We need to avoid those moving or purchasing a home missing out through delays after 31 March when the holiday ends.”

The housing market has seen more interest from buyers since reopening from the lockdown and the subsequent stamp duty holiday.

Legal & General Mortgage Club surveyed a range of stakeholders in the housing market, including estate agents, surveyors, conveyancers, and housebuilders to build an estimated timeline for a typical housing journey given these delays.

Before the pandemic, a mortgage application for a consumer with straightforward circumstances took less than two weeks (61%) to move to mortgage offer.

Yet, since the re-opening of the mortgage market, advisers have found that this process is taking much longer – 30% said it is taking three to four weeks with a further 32% saying it is taking four to eight weeks.

Those with more complex backgrounds, such as those with impaired credit histories or who have been on furlough, may need to allow up to six to eight weeks (28%) to get approved for a mortgage.

Other elements of the housing sector are also trying to manage demand and the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on their businesses, which has increased lead times.

Conveyancers indicated that the time between offer and exchange is now taking three weeks, while the period between exchange and completion stands at one to two weeks.

Responses from estate agents also indicated that the average time between receiving an offer on a property and completion has increased by around eight weeks.