Stamp Duty holiday: what it means for you

Published: 13/07/2020

The announcement of a Stamp Duty holiday on July 9th by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak means that you can save up to £15,000 when buying your next home.

The upfront costs of moving have proved themselves to be an obstacle to home-ownership, particularly for first-time buyers. While they’re trying to save up a deposit to buy a property, they’re also paying rent and watching house prices continue to rise, leaving many feeling stuck in a vicious circle. Even those staying longer at home and avoiding commercial rents have found the costs of deposits, fees and taxes to be quite a barrier to entering the property market.

As well as first-time buyers, Stamp Duty has become a greater concern for homeowners with many put off buying a more expensive home by the increased levels of Stamp Duty now payable. Instead of paying tax to move, some people have chosen instead to stay put and  invest their money into their existing home by extending or renovating.

But now there is a window of opportunity to save up to £15,000 on your next home purchase. Did you have some plans that you put on hold? Could now be the time to bring forward your move? Or should you simply take advantage of the opportunity that now presents itself?

Let's look at a few scenarios to see whether a move is right for you.

If this will be the first time you sell a property, then it's likely your home is suitable for first time buyers. And you may have bought your first home as a springboard to get onto the property ladder, with a view to selling when the right moment came.

It's also possible that your next home would usually attract a hefty sum in Stamp Duty, so you could benefit from additional demand for your existing property as well as a healthy saving on your next one.

Is now the time to give yourself some extra space? Or for you and your partner to buy together for the first time? Maybe you’re thinking of starting a family. The savings on Stamp Duty could make now a good time to fulfil those plans.

Home life changes in so many ways. Families get larger which means more bedrooms and living space; people start working from home and need a room for a study; sometimes it’s down to a vinyl collection or other hobby that needs a place of its own!

All these are tangible motives to move regardless of any financial incentives from the Government, so if that’s where you’re at, it seems you're already at the right time to be thinking of selling.

Having a specific reason to move is a great way to make an unclouded decision without trying to strategise around picking the right moment, but now you get to make your move at a time of increased demand and to save on Stamp Duty at your next home.

People downsize for many reasons, but the act of downsizing isn’t necessarily about money. It can also be an emotional experience, so it’s sensible to look at the full picture to avoid rushing into a move before you’re ready.

The main reason for downsizing is when a family’s children have left home, leaving parents with a bigger property than they need or can handle. But many people downsize to move to a more expensive area when location and lifestyle become more important than square footage or number of rooms.

If you’re downsizing to a remote cottage somewhere where prices are below or near the previous threshold for Stamp Duty, then the savings you’ll be making are either zero or negligible, so your plans don’t need to be run by the Stamp Duty holiday. Rather than getting caught up in the euphoria, simply ask yourself whether now is the time you’d like to make the change.

On the other hand, if the value of the property you’d like to buy would usually attract a large Stamp Duty charge, then maybe now is a good time to put your plans into action. The savings could give you a head start in the lifestyle you’re looking forward to.

If you won't be buying another property after you sell your existing one, the Stamp Duty holiday will make no financial difference to your move which means your plans don't need to change from a monetary point of view.

However, the holiday was designed to inject the property market with a boost of activity as we come out of lockdown, and that increased level of interest from buyers has instantly translated into an extremely busy marketplace.

We're not in the business of predicting what may or may not happen in the coming months, but there is definitely a moment happening right now. So our advice to you is to consider whether taking advantage of the current activity is something that will work for your life and plans.

While the Stamp Duty holiday applies to all purchases, the surcharge for second homes and investment properties still remains in place.

The Higher Rate for Additional Dwellings is charged at a flat 3% of the entire purchase price for any property above £40,000, so while the purchase of a second home or investment property would not be free of tax, there is still a significant saving to be made by making that purchase during the Stamp Duty holiday.

The money you save could amount to a reasonable sum and go towards new furniture or renovating the property and increasing its value, so there is certainly an opportunity to use the Stamp Duty holiday to your advantage.

Hopefully exploring the different stages of home-ownership and how the Stamp Duty holiday could affect you has given you some clarity around moving home or purchasing another property.

Whether or not it’s the right thing for you to be considering right now, we’re here to help you make the best decision. If you’d like to talk about any aspect of selling your home or buying another property, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Berkhamsted office: 01442 863000
Tring office: 01442 820420