Stamp duty changes: How will they affect Help to Buy customers? New rules revealed today

Stamp duty rules were changed by Rishi Sunak this week in direct response to the coning coronavirus problem. Effective immediately, all property purchases will not have any stamp duty levied if the value is below £500,000.


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This change will remain in place until at least March 31 2021.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer detailed that the average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500.

Nearly nine out of ten people purchasing a home this year will not pay any stamp duty according to Mr Sunak and the average bill where it is levied will fall by £4,500.

Many welcomed the chancellor’s announcement and several experts weighed in on how these changes would affect the wider housing and property market.

On top of this, the government themselves have also updated Help to Buy rules to account for the new stamp duty situation.

They broke the changes down into specific sections on their website, with the first element addressing the most basic question:

Does the announcement about stamp duty exemption apply to Help to Buy customers?

Fortunately, those taking advantage of the Help to Buy scheme can also utilise the stamp duty perks: “Yes, if you are buying a house up to the value of £500,000 and legally complete your purchase between July 8 2020 and March 31 2021, you do not have to pay stamp duty.

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These rules could become complicated given the technicalities of home purchases but the government detailed that they want to minimise problems as much as possible:

The information on my Authority to Proceed/Authority to Exchange still includes details of stamp duty. Do I need to get this changed?

“We don’t want to slow down your purchase and have decided not to reissue or amend paperwork. “Your home builder and solicitor will be able to make any changes that are needed.”

My builder agreed to pay my stamp duty as an incentive to buy, what should I do?

“This is an agreement between you and your home builder.

“Please speak to your home builder and solicitor about the options available to you.”


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Even those who have already exchanged contracts can take advantage of the new tax rules.

Stamp duty is only payable on “legal completion” and as such, those waiting to complete can benefit from Mr Sunak’s announcement.

However, some have expressed fears that many people will simply be unlucky with their timing and miss out on the changes through no fault of their own.

Because of this, several property lawyers have come together to call on the government to backdate the stamp duty cut scheme.

The campaign is spearheaded by the Head of Private Client and Conveyancing at law firm Simpson Millar.

Sarah Ryan explained that the decision to not backdate the scheme was most likely to affect new build buyers and those who had been on the cusp of completion at the start of the pandemic who have faced “months of stress and uncertainty’”.

She responded to the announcement with the following comments: “We of course welcome the plans announced today to freeze the Stamp Duty costs on any property up to the value of £500k which will not only encourage potential buyers to move on and up the proverbial ladder, but will also help to retain jobs in the real estate sector.

“However, there is no denying that for some, in particular those individuals, couples and families who have managed to complete on the purchase of their home either during lockdown, or in the immediate aftermath, this will come as a bitter blow.

“This is most likely to affect those who have bought a new build property as many of those transactions could go ahead despite social distancing, as well as those who were all ready to finalise proceedings once the rules relaxed in May.

“We have now written to the Housing Secretary to call for the scheme to be made retrospective so that those individuals can also benefit from the cost savings.”

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