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Buying A Home During The Stamp Duty Holiday?

Homes priced £500,000 and below are now exempt from the buyers’ tax until next March 31. With up to £15,000 savings on offer when buying a home in England and Wales, millions of potential home movers are rushing to get their search under way.

New listings of London homes on Rightmove increased by 14 per cent, or 1,402, in the fortnight after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the stamp duty measure in his summer mini Budget on July 8.

Post-lockdown: time your home buy right to cash in on the tax break

In normal circumstances, it usually takes around eight weeks to find a home and a further 15-20 weeks for conveyancing.

Final, and sometimes lengthy, stages of conveyancing include signing and exchanging contracts before completing on the sale. In some cases it is possible to exchange contracts and complete on the same day. However, it isn’t uncommon for sales involving chains to take six months.

Using the above times as a guide  to ensure the stamp duty deadline can be met a property must be put on the market no later than September 25.

When viewing a home

Once you’ve decided to move home, it can be daunting but it’s also exciting.

When the sums finally add up and you’re all set to be mortgaged to the hilt, it can be easy to forget how little time you might spend viewing a home before you are committed to owning it.

At the viewing here are some things to check while you are there:

  • Taps: is the water pressure good? Check the shower or bath, too. How long does the water take to run hot?  
  • Storage: where is it - and is there enough of it?
  • Rooms: would you be able to fit a wardrobe and a bed in the bedroom, for instance? Are there any cracks in the walls or ceilings?
  • Electrics: do the lights work? Where are the power sockets in key rooms – and are there enough of them?
  • Boiler: how old is it? Has it been serviced recently? Is there a guarantee in place?
  • Stairways and entrance: will it be awkward to get furniture in or out?
  • Windows: do they open and close easily? Are you overlooked by neighbours?

Prove you are ready to buy

It can help to have evidence that you’re in a position to buy, whether it’s with a mortgage in principle or funds in your account.

If you’re using a mortgage, your lender may need a certain amount of time to transfer funds, so it’s worth finding out how long that time frame might be.

Look into the location

It is essential to visit the property in person, if you can, and walk around the local area. Check if there is noise from nearby roads, or if the home is under a flight path.

You will also want to know what there is in the way of local restaurants, pubs and shops, as well as access to public transport.

Find your solicitor

If you’ve chosen a solicitor, make sure they are ready to be instructed.

Not being prepared and ready can add on a minimum of 2-3 days trying to find a solicitor, ask for quotes  and agreeing terms.

Property and building research

If there’s a lease length and a service charge, make sure you know exactly what they are.

If the charges turn out to be disproportionately high, it’s better to know early on, as getting a mortgage could be problematic.