Comment: The stamp duty holiday is effectively over for Herts buyers

Movers set to complete between now and March 31 will save up to £15,000 in stamp duty. Picture: Gett

The maximum stamp duty saving has dropped from £15,000 to £2,500, or £5,000 for first-time buyers.  - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The first stage of the stamp duty holiday has finally come to an end, amid tales of exhausted conveyancers, booked up removals firms and buyers on the verge of a nervous breakdown. 

The market has been compared to the wild west by Tobi Mancuso, director of property investment company Track Capital, with homes “flying off the shelves whether they’re good, bad or ugly”.

He added that “a scarcity of properties and the stamp duty holiday has created a situation where buyers feel like they’re in the last chance saloon, creating panic buying and pushing up asking prices."

Indeed, prices have shot up since the temporary nil rate band of £500,000 was introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last July, in a bid to boost the ailing housing market following its period of COVID-induced closure.

Rightmove reports that the average asking price in the East of England increased by 7.6 per cent (£27,677) between July 2020 and June 2021, while the national increase stood at 4.9 per cent (£15,808). 

The half-million cut-off ended yesterday (June 30) and has been halved from today until the end of September. From October 1, the nil rate will return to £125,000 (though first-time buyers will avoid stamp duty on the first £300,000 of their purchase from today). 

These have been challenging times for movers desperately hoping their sales would complete early enough to take advantage of the full £15,000 saving, and agonising for those who've just missed out. 

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A worry all along was that buyers who'd committed to the biggest mortgage possible would be unable to proceed without the full tax saving and would have to pull out, potentially causing their chain to collapse. 

The tapered nil rate threshold offers little consolation to most buyers in our part of Herts. 

After all, with an average St Albans property priced well in excess of half a million and Harpenden homes costing considerably more, the new maximum saving of £2,500 (£5,000 for first-time buyers) isn't quite the same incentive as the £15,000 buyers would have got yesterday. 

Of course, there's always the argument that the stamp duty holiday didn't really offer a saving at all, as any perceived discount was cancelled out by the simultaneous uplift in prices. Again, little consolation.

And with regards to the full fall out, that remains to be seen.