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Buyers urged to act now to meet stamp duty deadline

Buyers urged to act now to meet stamp duty deadline
 Credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Brokers are already preparing for the March deadline, when the stamp duty holiday ends, as many are experiencing delays in the mortgage application process.

Having seen an influx of enquiries already, Harpreet Gahir, mortgage consultant at Brooks Macdonald, said she expected to see a further influx after Christmas.

But Ms Gahir said those looking to benefit from the stamp duty cut should already be in discussions with a mortgage adviser.

She also warned that clients who are relying on the lower stamp duty to fund their deposit would have “little choice” but to withdraw from the purchase if they miss the deadline.

Jamie Lewis, managing director at Affinity Mortgages, said he expected a steady flow of enquiries until March, although noted that his firm had seen new enquiries slow down in the past couple of weeks.

But Mr Lewis warned: “[Whilst] in normal circumstances this would give us a chance for both us, lenders and legals to catch their breaths we see this as reasonably dangerous given the circumstances.

“We are certainly saying that really no guarantees can be given to buyers if their applications go in any later than the end of December but even that could be seen as cutting it fine given the climate.”

According to data from Trussle, lenders have been taking on average around 20 days to approve new mortgage submissions last month, compared with 9.5 days in October 2019.

Kevin Dunn, director at Furnley House, said clients were starting to enquire about problems with completing before the deadline, although he did not expect any to pull out.

Mr Dunn said: “[I] foresee [lenders] being the biggest stumbling block if nothing changes as they’re really struggling with demand presently.”

He added: “I don’t envisage buyers pulling out at all, as normally if there is a clear deadline, there is a good chance it will be met.”

Ellen Roome, chief executive and financial adviser at The Finance Roome, said the firm was not only recommending a lender based on the rate and fees, but also on their current service standards.

Ms Roome said: “We will do everything in our power to make sure that purchases can complete in time for the March 31 deadline.

“However I can envisage now that we will still have people coming to us closer to the deadline and expecting things to sail through in a way that they once might have done pre-Covid-19.”

chloe.cheung@ft.com

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