Within half an hour of Rishi Sunak’s Budget news that the nil rate threshold for stamp duty would remain at £500,000 until June 30, overall traffic to its website jumped by 16 per cent.
And use of the property portal’s mortgage calculator rose 85 per cent after Sunak read out a list of the biggest lenders in banking that were lined up ready to offer 95 per cent mortgages that will be backed by the government.
In today’s Budget, Sunak said after the 30 June, the nil rate stamp duty threshold would be lowered to £250,000 until the end of September and from October it would return to its normal level of £125,000. A 95 per cent government-back mortgage guarantee scheme will also be available from mid-April, which already has the support of Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest, HSBC and Santander. Virgin Money is expected to launch a range in May.
Rightmove’s analysis of potential buyers searching for properties priced at less than £500,000 made up 84 per cent of all its enquiries in England. While those searching for properties with price tags under £250,000 make up half of all enquiries in England.
Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister said: “This three-month extension will come as a huge relief for those people who have been going through the sales process since last year and were always expecting to make use of the stamp duty savings. Our recent data shows one in five sales that were agreed in the same month the stamp duty holiday was first announced in July last year still haven’t completed, so this additional time will make a big difference to help those stuck in the logjam complete their purchase in time before the new end of June deadline.”
Even off the back of rumours that the stamp duty holiday would be extended last month, estate agents reported a surge in buyer enquiries.
Whitegates estate agency, which sells homes in towns across the North and the Midlands, recorded its busiest week ever with a 19 per cent rise in website visits compare to the previous month after news broke in the press that buyers would be given more time to benefit from the stamp duty holiday.
However, agents’ views vary on whether new buyers stand to benefit from the June extension. Zoopla still believes that a seller agrees a sale in the next two weeks they still have a chance of completing the transaction before the June 30 deadline expires and the threshold drops down to £250,000 until the end of September.
Kate Randall, managing director at Whitegates, was less optimistic. “Whilst there is also likely to be increased new buyer activity, the reality is this may not benefit new buyers as much,” she said. “With such an active market, restrictions of lockdown and increased pressure on conveyancing services, we are seeing a slightly slower sales process, with the average time taking to complete up from 12 weeks to an average of 20 weeks.”