Property buyers resort to extreme measures to beat stamp duty deadline

Property buyers are resorting to drastic measures to meet the stamp duty holiday deadline amid fears thousands of deals could fall through.

Experts have warned that desperate home hunters are cutting corners on essential surveys for flood risks and Japanese Knotweed simply to complete on their property in time.

Demand for removal vans this month has jumped by 200pc year-on-year ahead of the tax deadline, according to website AnyVan, while some buyers are moving their belongings into temporary storage facilities to do their deal in time.

Property website Zoopla said that more than 50,000 buyers are at risk of missing the deadline in the face of big delays in the conveyancing process.

Earlier this month Telegraph Money reported that the cost of moving and the time it takes to buy a property had doubled as conveyancers hiked fees in the face of massive demand from buyers.

This wave of transactions has also meant surveyors are booked up, while mortgage lenders are overwhelmed.

Neglecting checks for structural issues, such as Japanese knotweed, can leave buyers with bills amounting to thousands of pounds later down the line.

Stuart Snape, of Graham Coffey & Co. Solicitors, urged buyers to consider a professional survey for the fast-spreading plant as part of the sales process, or risk a 15pc hit on a property’s future value. 

If purchasers can complete by June 30 they will save up to £15,000 in tax. The break will then be tapered until September 30, with buyers saving up to £2,500.

Jamie Hope, of estate agency Maskells, said the situation was so desperate, some of his clients had asked their children to take time off work and hire a van to help with removals.

Meanwhile, Ian Studd, of the British Association of Removers, said booming demand meant buyers were now using temporary storage facilities to ensure they could an still benefit from the stamp duty relief.

Richard Scrope, of JM Chase, a property search service, said one client was so desperate to get the stamp duty saving, the family was moving into a rented home so the children could remain in school until the end of term.

He added: “They tell me the balance they are saving is worth the hassle.”

But despite these best efforts agents are braced for buyers to pull out of sales once it becomes clear they will not complete in time for the deadline.

However, Nathan Emerson, of Propertymark, a trade body for agents, said many of the transactions purchasers were currently fighting over never had a hope of completing in time.

“People who began the buying process around or after the initial stamp duty deadline in March will struggle to meet the June cut-off. It takes an average of between 16 and 18 weeks to exchange contracts and now it is even longer,” he said.

Mr Emerson predicted “frustrated” buyers would soon pull out of sales when faced with the prospect of paying higher tax on top of already inflated house prices.

“Psychologically, people are happy to pay more for a property when they think they are saving on stamp duty. But when they lose that tax break, suddenly it’s a double whammy,” he added.

Ashley Wilsdon, of Middleton Advisors, said: “We have advised a number of clients to include a clause when offering, whereby the vendor would absorb the additional £15,000 if the transaction missed the June deadline.

“But this would only apply if there was an agreement already in place to complete in June and the vendor was the cause of delay.”

Almost three quarters of buyers currently buying property do not expect to beat the holiday deadline at the end of this month, according to Savills. 

Yet most of those still hoping to complete in time were undeterred by the prospect of missing the key date, according to research by the estate agency. This was especially pertinent amongst those buying homes worth more than £1million.