Comment: Stress for buyers as stamp duty holiday draws to a close 

The stamp duty holiday can save buyers up to £15,000. 

The stamp duty holiday can save buyers up to £15,000. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Moving is a massive stress-fest, we all know that.  

But moving with the added pressure of potentially being £15,000 worse off than expected is especially worrying.  

This is the situation many movers hoping to complete before the stamp duty holiday comes to an end on March 31 are facing.  

Now just 10 weeks away, there should be ample time for sales agreed before Christmas to complete.  

Sadly, like everything else at the moment, the property market is not predictable.  

While agents, conveyancers and surveyors have been able to operate semi-normally since returning to work following the first lockdown, it hasn’t quite been business as usual.  

All areas of the property industry have had to find new ways of working to allow for virtual viewings, furloughed and/or isolating staff and the increase in demand for their services the tax break has brought about.  

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According to a survey by Enness Global, 25 per cent of buyers decided to make their current move because of the stamp duty saving.  

And extra movers plus overstretched property professionals equals everything taking longer than it would do usually.  

According to Rightmove, the average sale is currently taking four months to complete - bad news for buyers who’ve only just had offers accepted, but even worse for those whose established moves are struggling to progress.  

The property portal said on Monday (January 18) that there were 613,000 sold subject to contract properties still awaiting legal completion, 100,000 of which are expected to miss the March 31 cut off. 

Seller flexibility to renegotiate will be key to preventing some sales from falling through for this group, Rightmove said.  

If calls for the stamp duty holiday to be extended fail to come to anything, a bit of give and take will certainly be required to stop the market from faltering.  

And as anyone who’s ever bought a house can confirm, this isn’t always easy to achieve. 

Here's hoping Rishi comes up with a compromise that won't leave movers out of pocket.