In The Guardian on Saturday, Hilary Osborne wrote about the dangers facing would-be buyers as they scramble to take advantage of the SDLT "holiday" before it ends on 31 March 2021. There is huge pressure on the residential conveyancing world to complete all transactions by 31 March 2021 (when both the current window closes and the full impact of the non-resident SDLT surcharge of 2% will also kick in, where relevant) and with a relatively tight timeline it is easy for people to overlook seemingly insignificant details like a subtle change of email address, bank account details etc.
As a reminder, for transactions completed between 8 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 there is a zero rate band applicable to residential properties valued up to £500,000. For transactions on or after 1 April 2021, the normal rates will resume, i.e. the zero rate band applies up to £125,000, the next £125,000 is charged at 2%, the next £675,000 at 5% etc etc.
First time buyers purchasing properties valued at up to £500,000 from (and including) 1 April 2021 will be able to claim relief (i.e. no SDLT) on the first £300,000.
Of course, where relevant, a person subject to the higher rates for additional dwellings (HRAD) would still pay the 3% SDLT surcharge even during the so-called holiday period.
And be warned that the Welsh Government has increased the rates of their equivalent tax by 1% on each band with effect from 22 December 2020, so I'm not expecting a reduction in SDLT rates to be announced by Rishi Sunak on Budget Day (3 March 2021).
Indeed, even if you can't complete by 31 March 2021, there may be some wisdom in exchanging contracts before 3 March 2021.
Homebuyers have been warned to take steps to avoid being scammed during their purchase and after they move, with criminals targeting large sums of money, including house deposits. The looming end of the stamp duty holiday has fuelled a boom in the property market as people attempt to secure a new home without having to pay tax. But UK Finance, the organisation representing financial firms, said buyers were in danger of being manipulated by fraudsters into paying money into the wrong account.