A brief history of the SDLT holiday
After the shock of the property market effectively closing in March 2020, with what was a steady stream of new instructions coming through up to that point being reduced to a trickle, the lead-up to the end of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday has felt like the feast after the famine.
Effects of a housing market shutdown
Sadly, some firms will not have survived the initial shock when coronavirus struck.
Cunningtons, however, had a strong leadership team in place, and weathered the initial storm. We retained almost all of our staff, with the help of the Government’s furlough scheme, and were well-placed to react to clients’ needs when the property market started to open up again at the end of May 2020.
Stamp Duty holiday to the rescue!
Then the Government announced a stamp duty holiday to stimulate demand in the housing market, and in the process unleashed a storm of activity, the like of which we had never seen.
No stamp duty was to be payable for the first £500,000 of any property purchase, (save in certain circumstances for buy to let or second homes, where the 3% surcharge was still payable).
Initially running until 31 March 2021, it was then extended until 30 June 2021 after a campaign by estate agents and certain sections of the press.
Housing market: from standstill to boom
What followed was a huge surge in demand for property transactions, many of which had to be completed by 30 June 2021 to take advantage of the savings.
Cunningtons took the decision in early 2021 that, in order not only to protect the welfare of our valued colleagues, but also to best serve the interests of our clients – giving them the best possible opportunity to complete by the deadline – that we would seek to place some limits on the amount or types of transaction we would take on.
Dealing with the housing boom
At Cunningtons, we felt that limiting the number of clients we accepted was the best way to preserve our excellent reputation. We have built up our reputation over the last several years, along with our introducer network, to ensure we could still offer the same standard of service we are proud of.
The result of all this was that the firm completed in June 2021 well over double the number of transactions usual for that month. So several hundred Cunningtons’ clients achieved their dream of moving home and saving the stamp duty which was otherwise payable if completion had slipped into July.
Brighton branch’s happy conveyancing clients
Indeed he recently received a case of wine from a very grateful client who had moved from the West Country to Brighton on deadline day.
Jason recalls that the transaction was difficult, the sale needed a new deed created to grant rights of access and the removal of a restriction placed by the original developer that had lost its purpose, among other issues.
The transaction went down to the wire, but with a combination of some long hours in the office, co-operation from the buyer’s solicitor, and the client’s determination, we got there.
Not quite the end of the holiday …
Clients can still make a small saving on stamp duty on property on the first £250,000 of the purchase price.
Market conditions may now be more favourable to first-time buyers, and the inflated prices of the last 12 months might become more realistic, as those looking for a second property will not make such big savings and may now be out of the market again.