The bi-annual football transfer windows always make for interesting viewing, especially the ‘Deadline day’ action. For once in the mortgage broker world, we have had something equally exciting in the UK Property market.

With the Chancellor announcing the extension of the Stamp Duty holiday in March to the end of June, that created our very own window in which most of our clients will benefit from a saving of £15,000 on their stamp duty bill. No small sum.

Deadline Day for Stamp Duty holiday

So therefore, when we reached what is effectively our ‘deadline day’ yesterday, which was the last day that there was 5 working days before the 30th June, meaning the last day that funds can be requested from a mortgage lender in order to complete on time within standard turnaround times, to say there was a fervour of activity would be an understatement.

Particularly in the days leading up to that deadline there were a lot of late nights, favours being called in and anxiety! I must say though, that even though it was a bit messy in the build up to the deadline, as lenders were clearly struggling to cope with the weight of applications (which is understandable, as lenders have less resource due to Covid, but yet more work is required as underwriting is more complex also due to Covid) and I have certainly done my fair share of moaning about that, but I have to say, the way the vast majority of lenders pulled out all the stops was commendable.

For me at least, most days from the second half of last week went on until at least 10pm, which often involved direct phone calls to underwriters (who also shared their contact details with me so we can avoid back and forward), email exchanges with lenders, estate agents, Solicitors and I am part of more WhatsApp groups than I care to count…

So all this pulling together did pay off as barring one or two exceptions which were in the realms of ‘acts of God’, we got all our clients mortgage offers out in time! So now we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief and try and get back to some form of normality.

Still scope to get completions through

That said, “it ain’t all over until the fat lady sings” (just for absolute clarity, that is a reference to opera sopranos, who were traditionally amply contoured. Often in relation to the imagery of Wagner’s opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and its last part, Götterdämmerung, is typically used in depictions accompanying uses of the phrase. The “fat lady” is thus the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, who was traditionally presented as a very buxom lady. Her farewell scene lasts almost twenty minutes and leads directly to the finale of the whole Ring Cycle. So I am not fat shaming anyone!).

There is still scope to get completions through but it will be by exception and will need all links in the chain pulling in the same direction at the same time… we have one or two yet to resolve and still confident we can do our part, as long as everyone else plays ball.

Downsides of UK Property market

One of the very many downsides of the UK property market is that it is all so disjointed. We can do our part, our clients and their solicitors can do their part, but if the other side’s solicitors aren’t geared up, or the lender throws in a curve ball, or the most common issue we faced – getting information out of surveyors! – all the hard work can be undone. That can be heart-breaking.

Solace should be sought in that at least the deal can happen, even if the Stamp Duty holiday is missed. I’m sure that wouldn’t make you feel any better if you were on the other end of that right now, but in time, these things do fade. After all, it was a holiday to stimulate activity in the property sector, so to that end, I would say the scheme has achieved it’s goal, maybe too well…

Is there now a housing bubble in the UK Property market?

Thoughts now may turn to such things as ‘are prices sustainable at this level?’ or ‘ is there now a housing bubble?’. They are very big topics for another day, but I did cover these thoughts in detail on my market update on Monday, so please feel free to watch this if you want to see my thoughts on why I don’t think house prices are coming down any time soon (certainly not in London and the South East anyway).

For now, it is a case of putting all our energies into tying up loose ends, and the joyous task of writing up all the files… as we are in such a heavily regulated work, we do all the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to!

In theory, lockdown is also ending in July, so lets see what this new ‘post Covid’ and ‘post Covid restriction’ world brings. I suspect it will continue to be busy in the UK Property market. We haven’t slowed the pace on new business and as I talk about in my update above, I can’t see things slowing down too much, but a return to a manageable workload for the foreseeable future is a welcome relief…

Please do contact one of The Team for further advice.

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