The Stamp Duty holiday has been extended, but it’s not all good news for homebuyers. Reports suggest that some firms are charging as much as double for their services as buyers try to get their conveyancing completed before the deadline.
With such high demand currently, it is perhaps not surprising that some solicitors have increased their conveyancing costs in order to push things through in less time. This might mean longer hours in the week and possibly even working weekends for the solicitors to get through the work. However, some buyers are finding that their bills are twice as high as they might have been before the Stamp Duty holiday. Simple purchases should not require high fees, as many things covered by conveyancing costs won’t have changed.
In the last few years, a fee of £2,000 to £2,500 would not have been unreasonable for a simple transaction for a first-time buyer. Today there are firms willing to charge double that plus VAT to ensure the transaction is completed before the deadline. There is some hope that with the extension of the deadline the fees will come down again, as they have been slightly lower for buyers not feeling the pressure of the Stamp Duty deadline.
Data from HMRC shows that the number of housing transactions in April 2021 was a staggering 197.8% up on the same month in the previous year. The pandemic undoubtedly played a part in having fewer transactions last year, and the looming deadline will affect this year’s figures.
Many conveyancing firms are reporting a big increase in demand for their services, and some are already at capacity. The trend for dynamic pricing – charging more during periods of higher demand – could continue once the new Stamp Duty holiday deadline and the pandemic have passed.
Some will argue that the costs for pushing through the work faster and prioritising one client over another are reasonable, though when it appears that some are considering the amount a buyer is saving in Stamp Duty and deciding to charge a percentage of that, the waters muddy. We are becoming more accustomed to paying a premium for having something now, when if we are willing to wait, we can have the same thing at a lower price, so there is arguably some blame to share with the consumers too.
For more information on conveyancing in the UK today, visit the Conveyancing Association.
It is always worth looking around and asking for a quote, though in a situation where the demand is outweighing the current supply, it is reasonable to expect to pay a little more.