Earlier this year, the chancellor announced suspension of the previous thresholds for stamp duty tax on property purchases until 31st March 2021 with the exception of second homes. This means that buyers of properties up to £500,000 will pay no stamp duty if they complete home purchases before this deadline. This stamp duty holiday is due to end on 31st March 2021, so many people are racing to complete property sales before the deadline. Hancock and Partners has put together a list of their top 10 Tips for Completing Home Purchases by 31st March.

1. Know what you want but be flexible

Before searching for properties, have an idea in your mind about exactly what you are looking for. Make a checklist of must-haves such as off-street parking and nice to have such as a south-facing garden. This will enable you to make efficient, targeted searches and have good conversations with your estate agent about what home will be right for you.

Although the property which ticks most of your boxes may be the most obvious choice, use your imagination on the less obvious candidates. With a little investment of time and money, they may prove a better long-term investment.

2. Choose the right solicitor

Choosing the right solicitor is crucial to achieving a quick completion when buying a house, as a good solicitor anticipates any obstacles, lets you know in good time about any input required from your side and supports you throughout this process. When choosing a solicitor, be sure to speak to a reputable independent estate agent which can offer recommendations based on their local expertise.

3. Get your finances in place

One of the lengthiest yet often overlooked aspects of buying a home is organising your finances and mortgage. We recommend speaking to an independent mortgage broker who can provide you with sound advice on how to achieve this. Although you won’t be able to secure a mortgage before you buy, you can obtain a mortgage offer, which will certainly save a lot of time and put you in a stronger position as a potential purchaser. The mortgage landscape is changing all the time, which is why a professional broker is advisable.

4. Appoint your surveyor in advance

Due to the stamp duty holiday announcement, there has been a surge in demand for property to buy in Chichester, as everyone is rushing to complete sales before 31st March 2021. Therefore, we would recommend organising your surveyor a good way in advance, as they are likely to have a large backlog of work which could cause delays. The surveyor will survey the property to check for problems, which might affect the cost of the home, so it is very important to work with a reliable RICS registered surveyor.

5. Find the right estate agent

A good estate agent will be able to reduce the amount of time it takes to buy, as they can help you find the right property and guide you through the negotiation and closing process. At Hancock and Partners, we are experienced in the pitfalls and potential delays which can hold up a home purchase. We are already helping people looking to buy or sell quickly due to the stamp duty deadline, so we are here to support you and work with you to successfully conclude your purchase.

6. Conduct research into new homes

New build homes have become a very good option for many would-be homeowners, especially first-time buyers. Since the first lockdown in March, the building of new homes is up by 50% as the building work took off again to meet demand once lockdown eased. Some developments are even offering 28-day exchanges as an incentive. So new homes are a great option to look into for completion before the end of the stamp duty holiday. If you have never considered a new build before, Hancock and Partners can provide an objective overview of the pros and cons.

7. Ensure good communication between all parties involved

One of the main reasons why so many property sales take such a long time is due to lack of communication between the parties involved. If you require a quick completion, it is essential to respond quickly and ask for regular updates from your solicitor. Stay in regular contact with your estate agent, asking for updates and whether there is anything that you can do to help – as they may be waiting on some information from you. It is important to remember that circumstances may change, and your estate agent is usually the first to hear of this.

8. Speed up searches

This is another reason to instruct a good solicitor or conveyancer, as they will be able to complete searches quickly which reveal statutory matters, like planning enforcement notices, which could affect the property price. Searches can take up to six weeks to complete, so it is important to complete these early on to prevent any delays further along. By working with a specialist team, they can use time-saving technology like online search facilities to get the process completed more quickly.

9. Understand the transaction chain

If your property purchase depends on a large chain, this is undoubtedly a risk for the speed of completion, so you need to be prepared for some delays. Of course, your estate agent can advise you on this, but it is important to take this into consideration if you are looking to complete a quick purchase. If you have a choice, look at homes which have no chain at all, where the vendor is not dependent on purchasing a property to release the property you wish to buy.

10. Be organised

Buying a home is always a lengthy process, so it is essential that you stay organised and up to date with your responsibilities – this is the part within your control. As much as the process relies on other people, your solicitor is going to need a lot of information from you, so respond to their requests as quickly and accurately as possible to prevent any delays. You do not want a lack of organisation to get in the way of you buying your dream home without the stamp duty tax.

If you would like to speak with Hancock and Partners’ friendly Sales Director, Jonny Crow about buying a new home before 31st March, or another member of the Hancock and Partners team, we would encourage you to call us on 01243 531155, and we would be happy to assist you.