Mortgage experts predict stamp duty extension following third lockdown

Essex Home Finance
Following Boris Johnson's speech last night, in which he imposed a third national lockdown, mortgage experts are predicting an extension to the stamp duty deadline.
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Following Boris Johnson’s speech last night, in which he imposed a third national lockdown, mortgage experts are predicting an extension to the stamp duty deadline.

David Hannah, founder and principal consultant of Cornerstone Tax, said: “It is critical that the government reviews this stamp duty holiday, and either announces an extension or amends the tax payment date so that homebuyers can still take advantage of the holiday even if they cannot complete by 31st March. The most preferable option would be a phasing out of the holiday, to avoid those who are currently in the process of purchasing their properties, essentially being thrown off a cliff-edge.

“Especially now that the country is being plunged back into another full lockdown, more must be done to help people get on the property ladder and give the market some security in what will be a very turbulent few months.

“Government-backed purchase mortgage guarantees for borrowers would be a great way to reinstall confidence in the lending market. If the term of these guarantees were for five years, for example, the inflation of the housing market during the medium term would wipe off any negative equity on those properties.”

Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco, commented: “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.”

George Franks, co-founder of London-based estate agents, Radstock Property, said: “In theory, it’s business as usual for the property market but in practice that’s simply not the case.

“Transactions are already under a lot of time pressure and the new lockdown will compound the issue, as people work from home or fall ill with the new strain.

“Extending the deadline by at least another month to reflect the new national lockdown seems like the right thing to do in the current circumstances and I’m sure it’s on Rishi Sunak’s agenda.

“The property market is providing vital fuel for the economy and the Treasury will want to ensure that continues during the potentially challenging months ahead.

“Extending the stamp duty holiday is a way for the Government to give people something to cheer about when there’s so little to cheer about, as public sentiment and the property market are closely related.”

Karen Noye, mortgage expert at Quilter, added: “Many will have had a sense of déjà vu yesterday evening watching yet another Prime Ministerial address to the nation announcing another England-wide lockdown for at least the next seven weeks. Once again, vast swathes of the economy are under lockdown orders and will find the next few months extremely challenging, not least the housing market.

“Back in March of last year, the ‘stay at home’ orders were accompanied by a reduction in the rates of stamp duty paid on residential properties until 31 March 2021, and this unlocked the housing market and provided a much needed boost to property sales during an extremely difficult time. 

“Recent figures from the Bank of England show that mortgage approvals rose to their highest level in 13 years, with net borrowing hitting £5.7 billion in November 2020. It is clear that the housing market has been burning bright thanks to the fuel of the stamp duty cut, but the blaze will likely be extinguished without any further government support. 

“Given the amount of time it takes to offer, exchange and complete, in reality the 31 March 2021 deadline for the stamp duty cut has already expired, so the housing market once again finds its self in a precarious position once the incentive to move and benefit from the stamp duty cut ends. 

“The freeze in the housing market will be compounded by the dire economic environment expected over the next few months with the OBR – the government’s fiscal watchdog – warning that Covid-induced unemployment will peak at 7.5% in the second quarter of 2021, which will inevitably hit mortgage applications. 

“The stamp duty cut is an imperfect solution. There are valid concerns that it has inflated property prices and has done little to help, and has even hindered, first-time buyers from getting on the property ladder. But it should be seen as a sticking plaster to patch up the housing market through the difficult first half of the year before the economic recovery can begin.”

Original Article from Financial Reporter 05/01/2021

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