Conveyancing partner Donall Murphy comments on the Law Society Gazette's article saying that clients should not expect to complete their property purchases by 31 March 2021, the end of the stamp duty holiday. 

In July 2020 the Government announced a stamp duty holiday for residential property purchases in England until 31 March 2021. Many homebuyers have taken advantage of this potentially substantial saving. At Russell-Cooke in the residential property team we have been seeing very strong demand particularly in higher price brackets.

This strong demand has led the Law Society to issue a warning to homebuyers. The Law Society is urging consumers to have realistic expectations about achieving their dream move before the stamp duty holiday ends. 

David Greene, the Law Society President, is reported as saying: "Consumers must recognise that it is increasingly unlikely that if they sell/buy their house now, they will complete by the 31 March deadline. The solicitor is often the last link in the move, and it is only when the solicitor has all the pieces, which they are dependent on obtaining from others, that buyers and sellers can move."

So far as our clients are concerned this is unduly pessimistic but the warning is entirely appropriate. The time is rapidly approaching after which, however good the skill, commitment and effort of your solicitor, the chance of completing in time will fade away. Fast and efficient transactions require speed of movement by numbers of different parties and the pressure of demand on them is only going to increase further as we get into the New Year.

The best advice is to line up your legal representation early and choose a firm with large resources. A larger team is less likely to allow individuals to become overloaded or for transactions to be delayed by individual absences. Make sure your chosen solicitor is used to going the extra mile. Have your solicitor carry out work that might cause delay early even at the risk that if your purchase doesn’t go ahead your modest investment in that work will not pay off.

If you think you have identified your dream home, don’t delay – start the ball rolling.