Resilience in the Property Market
THEODORA MICHAELOUDIS >
Consultant SolicitorThu 9 July 2020
At the best of times selling or buying a property can be a stressful process, but add to that the unforeseen pressure of a Pandemic and the stress escalates to a whole new level.
Like many Solicitors, Conveyancers and Legal Professionals specialising in property, I have witnessed clients having to bring their plans to a sudden halt.
Due to the COVID-19 stay at home measures, in March 2020 the government issued guidance encouraging all those buying an occupied property to agree an alternative move date whilst such measures were in place. The exceptions, during this period, were that critical home moves (where no alternative date could be agreed) or moves to properties which were vacant were allowed.
Many clients had already exchanged contracts when the government guidance had been issued. Some were not buying or selling a vacant property causing delays. Others who had not yet exchanged and were part of a chain experienced delays in the process.
It was inevitable that these changes would result in an array of feelings of uncertainty and anxiousness for many. However, together with their legal representatives, clients displayed real resilience during this challenging period.
May 2020 saw the restrictions set in place being eased with more estate and letting agents’ offices and show homes re-opening. House viewings resumed, surveys and valuations were able to be arranged once more, and removal companies were accepting bookings.
The delay experienced was only ever going to be temporary. Some clients even found the delay to be beneficial. It allowed them the breathing space to further plan their property move, in a way that would not have previously been possible.
More recently, on 8th July 2020, the Chancellor announced a change in Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rates on the purchase of residential properties. The new changes have been implemented with immediate effect and will apply until 31st March 2021. Once again, we see a step to encourage movement in the property market.
The SDLT changes means that anyone purchasing a residential property will not pay any stamp duty land tax up to £500,000. This will result in a saving for many, including both companies and individuals. It will also mean that purchasers can now afford to offer more for a property where their offers were previously declined by sellers for been too low.
In relation to new residential leasehold sales and transfers where the nil rate band applies to the net present value of any rent payable, this has also increased to £500,000.
If purchasing an additional home, the 3% higher rate will still apply on top of the revised rate.
I am grateful to all clients for their patience and courage during this testing period.
I am pleased that the estate agents and auctioneers were able to continue with business through virtual viewings during the stay at home measures. They were also easily contactable to discuss client cases. Even handing over of keys was done in a socially distance manner.
I am appreciative to all those involved in the process from the Lenders, to the search companies, land registry and indemnity insurers for their input.
There are certainly lessons to be taken away from this period. Many would agree that the process has been stressful, but they have also learned to quickly adapt. The housing market has experienced many periods of uncertainty and setbacks, but it has also shown itself to bounce back.
Step by step things are moving in the right direction. Normality in the property sector is returning and reassuring clients once again.
There is no denying that this period continues to be challenging. However, in the face of these challenges everyone has been of great assistance to assist and allow the conveyancing process to run as smoothly as possible. It just goes to show that when we work together, that anything is possible.
Looking for more information on this topic? Click here to go to our coronavirus guidance page.
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