Conveyancing Association Lobby for CHAPS extension

It almost seems rude to interrupt conveyancers at this moment in time because I know full well you’ll be dealing with perhaps unprecedented levels of work.

This is likely to be the busiest three days of your year, maybe any year, and at no point over these three days are you likely to have a minute to yourself, but we are trying to help out, and asking for the CHAPS system to close at 8pm on the 30th June, which will give everyone concerned a little extra time.

It is quite likely that you do not want to be or expect to be working until 8pm on 30th but it doesn’t need me to outline why this is important, but for a wider audience, and to highlight what this type of Government intervention can do to the conveyancing sector, we thought it was important to highlight the levels of transactions you are currently dealing with.

We asked TwentyCi/View My Chain therefore to crunch the numbers in order to evidence why we believe a CHAPS’ extension is necessary. Are these extraordinary times, for example, compared to any ‘normal’ year? Again, you’ll be unsurprised to learn they are.

Let’s look at the numbers returned by TwentyCi/View My Chain. In any ‘normal year’, which for these purposes returns to any year pre-pandemic one so looking at 2019 and before then, there are typically 33,000 completions in the last five days of June.

During this period, up until the end of this first stamp duty holiday deadline, the anticipation is there will be 50,000-plus completions which of course is a significant uplift, but we also need to ascertain where the peak is?

According to the data, of those ‘typical’ 33,000 completions in that ‘normal’ year, 20,500 of them would take place on the last Friday of June, however with the deadline being on the last day of the month, which just so happens to be a Wednesday, the anticipation now is that the 30th could see well over 30,000 completions.

TwentyCi/View My Chain have also looked back at the most recent precedent we have for stamp duty changes, and the deadlines in place before those rules changed. The most relevant is when the extra charge was brought in for additional property purchases back in March 2016, which as I’m sure you’ll recall resulted in a significant number of transactions taking place prior to that, mostly from landlords trying to ensure they didn’t have to pay the extra charge.

Back then, according to the data, 32,000 transactions took place on the 31st March and 16,000 the day before, and as we all know, that stamp duty-induced transaction boost did not involved the purchase of primary properties. So, it will not surprise you to learn that we surmise this record is likely to be broken, especially when the data reveals there are currently 550k progressing sales within the pipeline.

As mentioned, I’m unlikely to be telling you anything you don’t already know here, but the point is that, with these sorts of numbers needing to be completed, and the expectation from clients – and all other stakeholders – that their case is the most important and it simply has to complete before the end of June, you might fully understand why we are calling on the Bank of England to introduce that CHAPS extension.

Government intervention within the housing market always has consequences, sometimes intended, sometimes unintended and unforeseen. Certainly, the Government’s intention here was to boost demand and activity, and this has undoubtedly worked, but having done that, the industry now needs to be supported in its endeavours to get these cases through the pipeline to completion.

We wish all conveyancers good luck over the next few days and hope you can get through this very stressful period in as good a shape, both physically and mentally, as possible. We would also urge Government to look closely at these numbers and the impact its decisioning has had on all housing market stakeholders, and perhaps learn lessons about how it might look to introduce such measures again in the future.

Beth Rudolf is Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association (CA)

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