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Housing market cools slightly as stamp duty holiday nears end

Housing market cools slightly as stamp duty holiday nears end

The housing price boom has subsided slightly with a drop of 0.5 per cent in residential transactions in June, according to the latest House Price Index from the Halifax.

Annual house price inflation stood at 8.8 per cent compared to 9.6 per cent in May, while the average UK property price now £260,358.

UK seasonally adjusted residential transactions in May 2021 were 114,940 – down by 3.8 per cent from April (down 8.7 per cent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis).

The latest quarterly transactions (March-May 2021) were approximately 7.1 per cent higher than the preceding three months (December 2020-February 2021).

Despite the slowdown, demand for new homes, while still high, appears to be slowing, according to the latest UK Residential Markey Survey from The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (RICS).

That survey revealed that 14 per cent of correspondents reported an increase in new buyer enquiries throughout June, down from 43 per cent in April.

“What’s more, this easing in momentum,” wrote RICS in its report, “is visible across virtually all regions/countries of the UK covered by the survey. Nevertheless, the latest feedback continues to signal a clear excess of demand over supply.”

Russell Galley, managing director at the Halifax, said: “The average UK house price slipped by -0.5 per cent in June, the first monthly fall since January.”

“As a result annual house price inflation also eased back slightly from May’s 14-year high of +9.6 per cent to stand at +8.8 per cent in June.

“It is important to put such a moderate decrease in context, with average prices still more than £21,000 higher than this time last year, following a broadly unprecedented period of gains.”

Government support measures over the last year have helped to boost demand, particularly amongst buyers searching for larger family homes at the upper end of the market. The average price of a detached home has risen faster than any other property type over the past 12 months, up by more than 10 per cent or almost £47,000 in cash terms.

At a cost of over half a million pounds, they are now £200,000 more expensive than the typical semi-detached house.

Nicola Tubbs, a Department Director with Palmers Solicitor and Head of the Residential Conveyancing team, said: “The past few months have been non-stop, not only for our team but for the other solicitors, estate agents, surveyors and mortgage advisors that we work with.

“Although the £500,000 stamp duty holiday has now ended, there are still many homebuyers who will be keen to ensure than they take advantage of the tax free incentive still available on homes up to £250,000 and we expect that it will be a race to the finish to complete before the 30 September deadline.”

For help and advice with all residential property matters including conveyancing, please get in touch with our expert team today.

Extension to stamp duty holiday will save house buyers thousands of pounds

Extension to stamp duty holiday will save house buyers thousands of pounds

The Chancellor has confirmed that the stamp duty holiday is to be extended further, in a bid to help home buyers and reinvigorate the residential property market.

The stamp duty holiday, which was first introduced last July, was due to come to an end on 31 March.

Nicola Tubbs, Palmers Solicitors’ Director and Head of Residential Conveyancing, said: “Many buyers had been rushing to finalise their house purchases before the deadline but, as a consequence of delays during the third lockdown, it was feared that many would miss out on this valuable tax concession.

“It has been estimated that around 160,000 potential house sales were at risk – with concerns that the threatened additional cost of stamp duty could lead to many pulling out of the purchase at the last minute.

“The Chancellor’s decision to extend the stamp duty holiday is therefore a great relief to buyers who have already started the conveyancing process – along with those who are hoping to move home in the spring.”

The extension means that anyone buying a property that completes by 30 June 2021 will not have to pay stamp duty land tax on the first £500,000 of the purchase price.

The extension is even more generous, with the holiday extended until the end of September for the first £250,000 of the purchase price. The nil tax rate is then set to return to its usual level of £125,000 from 1 October.

In a bid to help first time buyers onto the property ladder, the Chancellor has also announced a new scheme to provide a Government mortgage guarantee for homebuyers who are only able to put down a 5 per cent deposit.

In a move, which he dubbed, ‘Generation Buy’, Rishi Sunak said: “I’m pleased to say that several of the country’s largest lenders including Lloyds, NatWest, Santander, Barclays and HSBC will be offering these 95 per cent mortgages from next month and I know more, including Virgin Money, will follow shortly after.”

At Palmers, our large Residential Conveyancing team have over one hundred years’ combined experience.

We provide high quality, tailor-made advice and we are never more than a telephone call or e-mail away.

To ensure you do not miss out on stamp duty holiday savings, get in touch with our conveyancing team today.

New Help to Buy scheme for first-time-buyers launches in April

New Help to Buy scheme for first-time-buyers launches in April

The new Help to Buy scheme for buyers wishing to purchase a new-build home launches in April, with substantially different terms from those available under the previous iteration of the scheme, which ran from 2013 and ends in March this year.

Nicola Tubbs, a Director with Palmers Solicitors who heads up our residential property team, explained: “Unlike the current scheme, the new scheme is limited to first-time-buyers and is subject to regional caps on the value of the property it can be used towards, ranging from £186,000 in the North East to £600,000 in London.”

Buyers can use Help to Buy to access a loan worth between five and 20 per cent of the purchase price on properties outside London and up to 40 per cent of the purchase price in the capital.

Additionally, buyers will need to have saved up deposits worth between five and 25 per cent of the purchase price to access a Help to Buy loan.

The Help to Buy loan is interest-free for the first five years, although buyers will need to pay a £1 a month management fee. From the sixth year of the loan, buyers will be charged interest of 1.75 per cent that increases annually through multiplication with the consumer price index, plus two per cent.

Loans must be repaid on the sale of the home or, otherwise, after 25 years. This amount is tied to the value of the home on sale, meaning that buyers who borrow five per cent of the value of their purchase would have to pay back five per cent of the later sale price, even if that is significantly higher than the value of the original loan.

At Palmers, our large Residential Conveyancing team have over one hundred years’ combined experience.

We provide high quality, tailor-made advice and we are never more than a telephone call or e-mail away.

To ensure you do not miss out on stamp duty holiday savings, get in touch with our conveyancing team today.

High Court rules on inheritance dispute between siblings over £40,000 property

High Court rules on inheritance dispute between siblings over £40,000 property

The High Court has ruled on an inheritance dispute between two siblings over their mother’s £40,000 property.

Three siblings were involved in the dispute, with two of the siblings accusing their brother, Edward McCarthy of pressuring their mother to change her Will and leave the property to him as the sole beneficiary.

Their mother, Margaret Wilcox, died in 2016 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Mr McCarthy had helped his mother purchase the property from the local authority for a discounted price of approximately £17,000, and his mother’s Will had subsequently been re-drafted, with two family friends present as witnesses.

His two siblings were due to receive 15 per cent of the property each, under the original Will, and argued that their mother had a poor memory and signed her final Will under duress, without understanding the full implications.

However, the court agreed with the assertion that Mrs Wilcox would have wanted her soon to have the property after she died as he had helped her purchase the house.

This case comes as the number of Wills disputed at the High Court reached an all-time high, with 188 cases heard in 2019.

There are several key reasons for this rise, including recent research which found that a significant number of adults in the UK do not have a Will, while the complex nature of modern families can also present challenges.

For help and advice on matters relating to Wills, inheritance and estate planning, contact our expert team.

HM Land Registry confirms it will begin accepting electronic signatures

HM Land Registry confirms it will begin accepting electronic signatures

HM Land Registry has confirmed that it will begin accepting electronic signatures for transfers of property ownership, leases, mortgages and other property matters.

Once a conveyancer has uploaded the deed to the online platform, an email will be sent to the signatories, with a two-factor verification code sent to them by text message. They can then sign the documents electronically in the physical presence of witnesses.

Once the document is signed, a notification is sent to the conveyancer, who can then submit the completed document to HM Land Registry.

Simon Hayes, Chief Executive at HM Land Registry, said: “What we have done today is remove the last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transaction.

“This should help right now while lots of us are working at home, but it is also a keystone of a truly digital, secure and more efficient conveyancing process that we believe is well within reach.

“The more sophisticated qualified electronic signatures are a part of that vision and encouraging those is where our attention will be directed next.”

It will remain possible for a signature page to be printed for signing and witnessing in pen.

Nicola Tubbs, a Partner with Palmers and Head of Residential Property Services, said: “This is a welcome development and will hopefully speed up the conveyancing process.

“It follows a similar move to allow electronic signatures for the witnessing of Wills and demonstrates how the effects of social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in organisations embracing the use of digital technology.”

For help and advice with all aspects of conveyancing including land registry matters, please contact us.

UK property sector sees the busiest month of sales in more than 10 years

UK property sector sees the busiest month of sales in more than 10 years

The UK property sector saw the busiest month in more than a decade in July, with £37 billion in total property transactions being agreed during the month.

The figures come from research by Rightmove, and follow the suspension of the housing market during the Government’s coronavirus lockdown, with the UK going into recession during the period.

Sales increased by £12 billion year-on-year, with July 2019 seeing £25 billion in sales agreed, as the market recovered following the lockdown.

The news also follows the Chancellor’s announcement of a temporary cut to stamp duty in July, known as a stamp duty holiday, with more people being encouraged to move house through the threshold being raised from £125,000 to £500,000 until 31 March 2021.

Experts believe that the stamp duty holiday has accelerated the property market, while average property prices were down by 0.2 per cent on July’s record high of £320,265.

Overall, property transactions increased by 60 per cent in the week between 5 and 12 August, compared to the same week last year, with the usual summer slowdown not materialising.

Miles Shipside, Director at Rightmove, said: “We associate this time of year with diving into the pool rather than the property market, and of sand and sun rather than bricks and mortar, but buyers have had a record £37bn-monthly spending spree.”

“More property is coming to market than a year ago in all regions, and at a national level the new supply and heightened demand seem relatively balanced.”

Nicola Tubbs, a Partner with Palmers and Head of Residential Conveyancing, said: “We understand, particular in these extraordinary times, of building lasting relationships with our clients and with other professionals such as independent financial advisers to ease the pressure of moving house which can often be a worrying and stressful event in your life – even in normal circumstances!

“Our professional conveyancing staff are here to offer to you practical and clear advice on the legal aspects and the often confusing procedures which need to be negotiated from the point of offer to moving house.

“Our conveyancers have dedicated support staff who will provide general updates on the progress of your transactions and can also ensure that any delays, possibly as a result of localised Covid-19 restrictions, are all factored into conveyancing agreements.”

For help and advice on matters relating to conveyancing, contact our expert team.