Local search backlogs will prevent buyers hitting 30 June deadline

With just under eight weeks to go until the 30 June Stamp Duty deadline, new data has revealed the towns and cities across the UK where prospective homeowners are most and least likely to complete on time; potentially saving thousands of pounds in tax.

The research, from online mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages, looked at the current waiting times for local authority searches to be completed – a determining factor that’s having a major impact on the length of time between a memo of sale and completion.

Based on the figures, the time taken by local authorities across the country to complete these searches varied drastically, ranging from five days up to more than six months for some councils. However, it was clear regardless of location, if you were still on the hunt for a property with Stamp Duty savings you’ll need to act soon or it will be too late.

After combining the latest local authority search data with the average remaining conveyancing time of nine weeks suggested by the HomeOwners Alliance the research was able to work out the average total conveyancing time for each local authority. However, it’s important to remember every home purchase proceeds at its own speed.

Those purchasing a property in Ashfield District in Nottinghamshire were least likely to be affected by delays in returning local authority searches, taking five days on average*. A number of other local councils including Bassetlaw, East Devon and Norwich City Council also reported speedy searches taking six days.

The ten and equal councils with the fastest local authority searches and least likely to delay conveyancing ahead of Stamp Duty deadline on 30 June 2021

Local Authority Working days delay in returning searches How many weeks? Total conveyancing time (weeks)
Ashfield District Council 5 1 10
Bassetlaw District Council 6 1.2 10.2
Cheshire East Council 6 1.2 10.2
Crawley Borough Council 6 1.2 10.2
East Devon District Council 6 1.2 10.2
Eastbourne Borough Council 6 1.2 10.2
Haringey Council 6 1.2 10.2
North Lincolnshire Council 6 1.2 10.2
Norwich City Council 6 1.2 10.2
South Gloucestershire Council 6 1.2 10.2
Stroud District Council 6 1.2 10.2
Uttlesford District Council 6 1.2 10.2

If purchases were successfully completed in these regions by 30 June 2021, it could lead to potential savings for homebuyers purchasing a semi-detached as their next home as follows**:

Local Authority Main town / area Average price for semi-detached house (£) Stamp duty to pay (£)***
Ashfield District Council Sutton-In-Ashfield £138,623 £0
Bassetlaw District Council Worksop £141,826 £0
Cheshire East Council Crewe £148,704 £0
Crawley Borough Council Crawley £342,384 £4,619
East Devon District Council Exmouth £313,155 £3,157
Eastbourne Borough Council Eastbourne £310,932 £3,046
Haringey Council Haringey £1,420,052 £83.255
North Lincolnshire Council Scunthorpe £126,996 £0
Norwich City Council Norwich £250,180 £9
South Gloucestershire Council Yate £262,737 £636
Stroud District Council Stroud £288,330 £1,916
Uttlesford District Council Saffron Walden £412,739 £8,136

At the other end of the spectrum, those in Hackney could face local authority search delays of more than six months (180 working days), with Havering (90 working days) and Dorset Council (70 working days) also reporting some of the slowest responses in the country. Other local councils faring poorly in this research include Durham County Council, Newcastle City Council and Lewisham Council.

The councils with the slowest local authority searches and most likely to delay conveyancing ahead of Stamp Duty deadline on 30 June 2021

Local Authority Working days delay in returning searches How many weeks? Total conveyancing time (weeks)
Hackney Council 180 36 45
London Borough of Havering 90 16 25
Dorset Council 70 14 23
Durham County Council 65 13 22
Newcastle City Council 50 10 19
Lewisham Council 45 9 18
Lichfield District Council 40 8 17
Plymouth City Council 40 8 17
Salisbury City Council 35 7 16
South Staffordshire District Council 35 7 16
Wiltshire Council 35 7 16
Barnet Council 35 7 16

If purchases were not completed in these regions by 30 June 2021, it could lead to additional Stamp Duty costs for homebuyers purchasing a semi-detached as their next home as follows**:

Local Authority Main town / area Average price for semi-detached house (£) Stamp duty to pay (£)***
Hackney Council Hackney £1,295,558 £70,805
London Borough of Havering Havering £492,062 £12,103
Dorset Council Weymouth £276,380 £1,319
Durham County Council Durham £162,972 £0
Newcastle City Council Newcastle upon Tyne £209,588 £0
Lewisham Council Lewisham £862,190 £30,609
Lichfield District Council Lichfield £283,824 £1,691
Plymouth City Council Plymouth £220,698 £0
Salisbury City Council Salisbury £332,435 £4,121
South Staffordshire District Council Codsall £247,827 £0
Wiltshire Council Trowbridge £241,733 £0
Barnet Council Barnet £716,605 £23,330

Commenting on the research, Richard Hayes, CEO at Mojo Mortgages, said:

“The Stamp Duty holiday, and the savings of up to £15,000 that come with it, has helped thousands of people buy new homes.

“The recent extension is good news for the many thousands of buyers still currently worried they would miss these savings, however with just eight weeks to go until the deadline there will be many wondering if they are going to complete on time, with conveyancers doing all they can to keep clients happy.

“Although these times are average and theoretical, they do help people realise how long things can take, and how tight it could be. If they do think they are at risk, it’s really important they speak to their conveyancer about no-search indemnity insurance.

“Of course, there is definitely the flip side of the coin where mortgages and conveyancing can get sorted much quicker than you expect.

“In the last few months, Mojo has helped many people go from mortgage comparison to completion with keys in their hand in around 30 days.”

David Darlington, Partner at Fieldings Porter, added:

“When it comes to the upcoming June Stamp Duty deadline, I do think that for some regions of the UK such as the north west and north east it will be less important than the one in October when it reverts to £125,000 as the property prices are lower with lots of properties under the £250k mark.

“That said, there are larger homes in those areas which do still trade in the £250k – £500k range and for those there will be marked difference in the stamp duty payable after 30th June so it’s important that they start the conveyancing process immediately as there is lots of pressure on the searches, and the conveyancing system as a whole at the moment.

“Even those which start now do not have a guarantee that they will complete in time for the end of June, but there is still a chance. It will partly be down to the requirements of the lender and buyer in relation to searches and the lead times in the locality. We have seen some searches coming back within a couple of days from one local authority and taking 5 – 6 weeks for a neighbouring one so buyers should discuss this with their solicitor or conveyancer as soon as they instruct them if the stamp duty deadline is important to them.”

As well as the 3-month extension of the up-to-£500,000 “nil-rate band” until the end of June, no Stamp Duty will be payable on residential property purchases up to £250,000 until 30 September 2021.

For the full list of local authorities and their current search times, please visit https://mojomortgages.com/mortgage-news/can-you-buy-a-home-before-the-new-stamp-duty-holiday-deadline

References

*Data taken from https://www.searchflow.co.uk/news-and-events/personal-searches-turnaround-times/ as of the end of April 2021

**The average cost of a three bed semi-detached property for each local authority is based on Rightmove data as of 5 May 2021 using properties based in the main town of each local authority e.g. for Ashfield District Council properties in Sutton-in-Ashfield were used as a basis.

***Figures taken from the Money Advice Service’s stamp duty calculator: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/house-buying/stamp-duty-calculator

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