Conveyancers rush to beat the end of relief deadline.

Last November George Osbourne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced in his pre-budget report that the relief for first time buyers from stamp duty land tax up to £250,000 would come to an end last Friday.

The relief has been available from the 25th March 2010 but the announcement last November of the end to the relief resulted in many first time buyers making the decision to become home owners. The short notice period by the Chancellor has resulted in a last minute rush to beat the deadline.

Jonathan Smithers, Partner at Cooper Burnett and Chair of the Conveyancing Land Law Committee, when asked about the day said:

“As regards being busy – yes certainly. I have been acting for a number of first time buyers (and also clients selling to them) all of whom, I am delighted to say, have been able to complete on time, within the SDLT period.

I suspect that each of them were going to purchase the property anyway but some have squeezed it in earlier than they might have done to save the Duty.

I have heard a couple of stories of people where the deadline has been missed, on one occasion; they are trying to negotiate a price reduction where the buyer only applied for a mortgage a few days ago.”

Jonathan went on to explain that Spring and Easter in particular is a traditional strong time for conveyancing.

Many other firms have also reported that they have been busy however a number of firms who concentrate their work in more wealthy areas of the country particularly in the south indicated that the £250,000 cap on the first time buyer relief was not high enough for their local property market.

Operations Director of My Home Move, Kevin Smith commented saying;

“We have experienced an absolutely unbelievable day for completions, smashing our own company record for the number of completions in one day. We have been completing transactions every 50 seconds of the banking day. I would guess that the SDLT deadline increased the number of completions we would have expected today by 40%. With month end next week and then followed by the 2 Easter weeks we are entering a very busy period for all Conveyancers. I wish them well in this very challenging time."

We have heard of some cases where borrowers may be seeking to complain or litigate against conveyancers for missing the deadline.

How did the day go for your firm?
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