The current stamp duty holiday comes to an end on 31st March 2021. It has provided an invaluable boost to the housing industry during the COVID-19 crisis, and driven mortgage approvals to levels not seen in over a decade.
Although many within the housing industry are calling on the government to extend this holiday, there is little indication that they are likely to agree to this request.
With potentially less than four months remaining until the reintroduction of stamp duty, it is imperative that transactions proceed smoothly with no unnecessary delays which could potentially cost homebuyers thousands of pounds.
One particular area of concern that conveyancing professionals should be aware of is the potential delay in obtaining a local authority search. While many authorities are still able to complete the CON29 and LLC1 within days or weeks, others have seen COVID-19 greatly impact their ability to complete searches. Having to transition to remote working, alongside reduced staffing levels means that in some instances searches can take several weeks, or occasionally months to complete.
For searches within the Severn Trent region, we regularly post the latest turnaround times on the residential and commercial local authority pages of our website. We will always attempt to advise customers of undue delays on any search. However, as we provide a national service, there are occasions where we may be unaware, and advising customers may not be possible. Conveyancers should always be aware of potential delays to their searches, and it is often helpful to check the authority’s own website prior to ordering to see if they have any additional information regarding potential delays.
If a search is likely to be delayed, it is possible that regulated search providers such as OneSearch Direct and CDS may be able to provide a faster alternative. These contain all the information provided in official searches, but are compiled independently by specialist providers. Searches from both OneSearch and CDS are available through ourselves and our staff will be able to advise of any known delays in obtaining either search. We are also able to offer search delay insurance, provided by CLS Property Insight.
The COVID-19 crisis has been challenging for all of us, and the stamp relief holiday has been vital in keeping the housing market moving during this difficult time. It is likely that many more buyers will try and take advantage of this before it ends in March. Let us help you obtain your searches early and ensure your clients don’t miss out on this invaluable relief.