A property expert has warned that there is a “big bottle neck” coming over the next few weeks. The stamp duty holiday is due to end on March 31 after Rishi Sunak enacted the tax break on July 8. The deadline is coming “hard and fast” and is pushing Britons to rush their transactions in order to save money.
“It’s going to result in a lot of people looking to move in the last week of March.”
Mr Morrey explained that if people can complete their property transactions but can’t physically move out of their property – because they can’t find a removals firm – then the solicitors are going to have to come to complicated arrangements.
The arrangements will have to include every buyer in the chain staying put in their properties for an extended period of time while each buyer finds a removals firm.
The mortgage expert predicts that people may have to stay in their current properties for up to a week, two weeks or maybe even a month.
He added: “The reason it’s an issue is that on completion the mortgage will have started so you’re paying the lender to live in a property that you won’t be able to live in because you physically can’t move house.
“You might have a removals firm ready to go but someone else in the chain might be unable to secure a removals firm.”
He added: “Buildings insurance requires that even though it’s still not a risk for exchange of contracts, it is understood within the building’s insurance industry that you can’t be held responsible for what happens in the property when you’re not living in it between exchange and completion.
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“But after completion, you’d be expected to live in there and be responsible for the property so it’s going to cause a few problems with building insurance companies as well.”
Mr Morrey is concerned that buyers have been too focussed getting their transactions completed before March 31.
Buyers who are in a chain with multiple buyers could find themselves stuck if one person can’t physically move house.
Mark Hayward, Chief Policy Adviser at Propertymark, the stamp duty holiday boom has been “hugely beneficial” for the housing market.
However, he thinks the stamp duty “cliff edge” on March 31 could cause “thousands of sales to fall at the final hurdle and have a knock-on and drastic effect on the housing market” has successfully recovered from the pandemic.
He continued: “We are calling on the Government to rethink these timings, so pressure on the system can be released to allow transactions to complete and avoid a disorderly and distressing period for movers and businesses throughout the market.”
Mr Hayward also exclusively told Express.co.uk that removal companies are definitely under more pressure due to an increased volume of sales triggered by the stamp duty holiday.
He added: “We know that the removal sector is under a huge amount of pressure with increased volumes as the stamp duty holiday cliff edge fast approaches.
“Traditionally, consumers move house on a Friday, so to ensure you can secure a removal company, try for an earlier weekday slot and engage with them at the earliest opportunity.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the British Association of Removers (BAR) also told Express.co.uk that removals companies are under more pressure and are “extremely busy” the last few months.
They said: “It is certainly true to say that movers have been extremely busy over the course of the last number of months and that trend looks set to continue throughout Q1 of 2021 as demand continues to be bolstered by the SDLT holiday coupled with the effect that living under lockdown conditions and working from home has had on the aspirations of the consumer relative to their home environment.
“Most moving companies are also managing their operations at below maximum capacity in order to comply with adherence to safe working principles under a COVID-19 environment and also to allow some contingency to cater for the potential for staff absences needing to isolate etc.”
The spokesperson said those looking to move should try and confirm their moving date as soon as possible so they don’t miss out.
They continued: “The key here for the consumer is to confirm the date with their chosen service provider at the earliest opportunity, remember that movers are busy and so the longer a booking is left, the less likely it is that a mover will have the required resource to be able to take the job on.
“I should also stress that most movers will want to take a non-refundable deposit at the time of booking in order to secure the date of the move.
“Move dates can, and often do, change at very short notice leaving the mover little or no chance of redeploying that resource to other work and therefore that deposit safeguards the mover against that risk.
“As we move towards the end of the SDLT holiday, we would actively encourage consumers to agree and confirm dates at the earliest opportunity with all involved parties (solicitors, buyers/vendors/conveyancers and of course movers) and if that can be done, then movers can and will meet the challenge of fulfilling that demand.
“Another key issue for the consumer to be aware of, and to comply with, is the guidelines for completing a home move under COVID-19 conditions.
“More details can be found on the Government’s website and your chosen mover will explain their own approach to managing those risks.”