Almost a third of house sales fall through as stamp duty deadline nears

Almost a third of house sales fell through in January as the end of the stamp duty holiday drew closer, according to a report from Rightmove.

The report said 29% of proposed purchases collapsed across Britain during the month – a figure that has slowly accelerated month-on-month since November last year.

The threshold for paying stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland is due to fall back to £125,000 from its temporary level of £500,000 on 31 March.

The policy was introduced last summer to stimulate activity in the housing market in the wake of the first COVID-19 lockdown last year.

There have been concerns among market participants that the stamp duty holiday deadline would decrease demand this year because transactions are taking a longer-than-average four months to complete.

Rightmove’s Director of Property Data, Tim Bannister, said: ‘It’s clear that more people than ever before used the new year as a chance to start thinking about moving home, despite all of the challenges and worries that came with January, but we are seeing the effect of lockdown on the number of properties coming to market.

‘We’re starting to see fall-throughs creep up a bit, though not by a substantial amount, a sign that some deals may be falling apart as they know they won’t complete in time to make the stamp duty holiday deadline, though this is likely to be in the groups set to make more substantial savings.’

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