If there’s one thing we know about the pandemic AND the property market, it’s that they are nothing without a good old rumour.
And the latest rumour is that the suspension of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT, or more commonly known simply as Stamp Duty) is set to be extended beyond its original termination date of the 31st March. Or, if another rumour is to be believed, SDLT will be scrapped altogether, and replaced by a same-but-different tax, which the government will no doubt claim to be fairer.
What we do know for sure, however, is that a petition was raised, demanding an extension to the termination date, and having gained substantially more than 100,000 signatures, the government is now required to debate it.
This is great news, as property transactions are now taking an age to go through, from an average of 12 weeks this time last year, to over 20 weeks now (which to be honest, I still think is optimistic by about 4 weeks), and if something isn’t done, then my fear is that people who were expecting to get their property transactions through by the 31st March, might now not be able to, due to the latest lockdown.
Either way, we all hope that Rishi Sunak does pull something out of that box of tricks of his. I think the minimum the property industry would accept is an extension to the status quo, and ideally a complete stop on all SDLT until further notice, certainly until transaction times have returned to normality and absolutely until something more fit for purpose can be devised.