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Buyers urged to house hunt now to save on stamp duty

Buyers urged to house hunt now to save on stamp duty
 Credit: Anthony Devlin/Bloomberg

Homebuyers should start their property search by November 1 to avoid missing out on the stamp duty holiday, according to Legal & General.

The L&G mortgage club estimates home buying currently takes up to 15 weeks, or 17 weeks for buyers with more complex requirements.

However, it added the timeline does not take into account the holiday season, or the impact of a potential second lockdown, which prospective buyers should factor into their plans.

Legal & General said buyers should begin their search by November 1 to benefit from the stamp duty holiday and to give themselves sufficient time for any issues before completion.

The mortgage club warned the mortgage application process was taking longer since the market reopened after lockdown.

In a survey of approximately 50 brokers between September and October, three in 10 advisers (30 per cent) quoted timelines between three and four weeks, while 32 per cent quoted four to eight weeks.

Borrowers with more complex backgrounds, such as an impaired credit history or who have been on furlough, may need to allow up to six to eight weeks (28 per cent) to get approval for a mortgage.

In comparison, a mortgage application for a consumer with straightforward circumstances took less than two weeks to move to offer before the pandemic.

The mortgage club also found increased lead times elsewhere in the housing sector, with conveyancers indicating the time between offer and exchange was taking three weeks, and the period between exchange and completion at one to two weeks.

Kevin Roberts, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “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 March 31 when the holiday ends.”

Aly Kassam, director at Easier Finances, commented: “With some lenders taking up to four weeks to deal with initial underwriting, November 1 seems to be a sensible point to aim for, but December 1 seems doable, allowing a total of 16 weeks to the deadline.

“Many lenders are instructing valuations on application submission, so choosing your lender carefully, not just based on price, but also service levels is a prudent approach to take and can really demonstrate the value of a broker, over using comparison sites to determine the ‘cheapest’ deal. Missing the stamp duty holiday could cost a homebuyer up to £15,000, so value and service are paramount.

“Unless clients are prepared to move full steam ahead with the conveyance, incurring costs for searches and other disbursements to be ahead of the game where the mortgage is approved, 16 weeks is a reasonable expectation to set with clients."

chloe.cheung@ft.com

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