The evil chain that stole my dream home – House hunting in a pandemic

Part 2

When we started house hunting in March 2020 it was a ghost town.

We had agents at our beck and call and were spoilt for choice. The houses that were on the market had been there for a while, no real haste and vendors were happy to get people through their doors.

As the months progressed we took our time, looked around and didn’t make any real commitments.

Once the Chancellor made the stamp duty holiday announcement in July 2020, everything changed dramatically!

We noticed that as soon as a house came on the market, it was gone within 7 days.

I was set up for email alerts and was quite quick to book viewings, but before we could get through the door, the house had been sold subject to contracts!

A trend that was quite apparent was that home movers were making the most out of this stamp duty treat.

The stamp duty holiday meant that people could use this time to size up, relocate and make money! (Equity)

Let’s bear in mind that we were in the thick of a pandemic and forced to stay indoors for the foreseeable. If your 24 hours, 7 days a week is going to be your home, then it may as well be somewhere you feel comfortable and love being.

We saw city lovers opting for properties in the country/the outskirts of the M25 due to the flexibility of working from home and not having to commute in to corporate inner city offices. Not forgetting to mention that you get a lot more for your pound outside London.

What you’d spend on a 2 bedroom London flat, you could buy a 4-5 bedroom house with generous garden space outside London.

Ultimately the housing market was booming, it was the right time and everything was working in every home owners favour.

UNTIL we were all reminded time after time that we are in a pandemic, people are dying and services aren’t running at their usual speed.

Our chain fell apart because the upper upper chain had a Covid fatality and the middle chain participants had quite a bit of strain placed on their relationship due to lockdown Covid side effects.

All in all house hunting in a pandemic is not for the faint hearted.

Resilience, empathy and speed are key.

Chains fall apart, people let you down, but our lives are priceless and as long as we hold on tight to those, we have all that we need!

Join me next week for, “The evil chain that stole my dream home – No chain, no pain. New builds”

The evil chain that stole my dream home – Background Story

Part 1

In this series I will be detailing the personal experience of trying to buy & sell property throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

2 weeks ago I shared disappointing news on my Instagram I had received a week prior. 

My husband and I were in the process of selling our flat and buying a new family home with a garden in acknowledgement of our son turning 1 and the need to size up. 

This all fell through 1 day before exchange was due and 2 weeks before completion was due.

Many had questions, many were scared, many didn’t want this to happen to them, so here we are.

Enjoy the 4 part series.

March

In March 2020 we put our property on the market. A week later the country was placed in a lockdown due to the rapid spread and threat of the COVID-19 virus.

This was not a great start to a journey we thought would be quite simple given my background and the fact that we’ve bought a property before with ease.

Everything was bought to a dramatic holt. No movement.

May

Things began to ease and we started to house hunt and made Offers on 2 properties – these were accepted. Now we just needed to find a buyer for our flat. Fast forward a few weeks – we lost house 1 because we took too long. With the seller being on haste, she sold the house to a chain free first time buyer for a lesser amount.

The second house was still in the works and both the agent and seller were patient with us.

July

In July 2020 the Chancellor announced the stamp duty holiday. This was great news for us. This stamp duty holiday meant that our expenses were to be bought right down. We then understood that we had more money to play with. It was a matter of, do we look for bigger houses? Or continue with what we had been looking at, presenting more deposit bringing our mortgage down/doing a more luxurious Reno job. 

August

At this point we’ve had around 5 viewings. No serious offers and everyone commenting on our slightly dated kitchen. 

September 

Aware of the stamp duty holiday potentially coming to an end in March 2021, we started to house hunt in September 2020 with the hope to exchange contracts and complete on our Sale/Purchase around December 2020 – January 2021

October

The second house we had made an offer on in May had been sold at this point due to our lack of a buyer. We were okay with this as we wasn’t too keen on all of the works the electrics needed. The house was a detached Edwardian home and needed a full rewiring (alarm bells).

Later this month we had a buyer! We began to give up hope until this lovely man came for a viewing with his business partner, shook hands with my husband and determined a gentleman’s contract had been made. 

We began to scramble because we no longer had a house we wanted. We immediately started to view properties, short list and then we found the one!

It was beautiful, had a drive, garage and a newly fitted modern wood burning fireplace.

We made an offer, it was accepted and the rush was on!

Days later our solicitors couldn’t get hold of our buyer and he advised that he was no longer looking for an investment flat as he had previously only dealt with houses due to leases bla bla bla. 

This was very disheartening and meant that we were now causing delays for the house we were buying.

November 

The agent that was orchestrating  our purchase of the house was great and quickly helped us find suitable buyers. We had viewings after viewings and eventually accepted an offer with the condition that things had to proceed quite quickly. 

December 

Searches had been paid for. Leasehold paperwork had been paid for. The solicitors we’re going through the motions and satisfying as much as they could.

Everyone in the chain was getting itchy feet. Things were dragging and our buyers were taking their sweet time. Eventually they got their mortgage sorted, searches back and we all awaited exchange/completion dates. Given the festive season, we knew this wouldn’t take place until the New Year

January 2021

COVID-19 was lurking. Some in the chain became victims and there were layers knocked off of the upper chain – this meant that it went from 6 parts to 4 parts.

It was understood by all parties that completion had to take place 2 weeks after the exchange of contracts due to the top of the chain’s situation.

14th January – the day before the anticipated exchange of contracts. We receive a call from the agent letting us know that unfortunately the sellers of the house we were hoping to buy are no longer proceeding for personal reasons. Everything fell apart. 

FAQ’s

What is the Stamp Duty Holiday? 

On 8 July 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a temporary stamp duty holiday that cut the rate of stamp duty to zero per cent for all properties £500,000 or under until 31 March 2021.

What is Stamp Duty?

Stamp duty is the tax governments place on legal documents, usually in the transfer of assets or property. … These taxes were called stamp duties because a physical stamp was used on the document as proof that the document had been recorded and the tax liability paid.

What is a Chain?

A chain is a series of linked house purchases which are mutually dependent for a successful outcome. Your chain consists of the person you’re selling a home to, and the person you’re buying from.

Join me next Monday for post 2 of 4.

There will be a New Post every Monday of February 2021

8th February 2021 – “The evil chain that stole my dream home – House hunting in a pandemic”

15th February 2021 “The evil chain that stole my dream home – No chain, no pain. New builds”

22nd February 2021 “The evil chain that stole my dream home – Recovery. What’s next?”

“Movers are more likely to benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday than first time buyers”.

Original picture: Woburn Sands area

It’s no secret that we are in a pandemic. The Government has been updating us quite frequently regarding new procedures and initiatives to help the economy and those who are going through a really hard time.

One of the initiatives that was announced was the Stamp Duty holiday. This was a bid to boost Britains housing market.

What this means is that someone who decided to sell their home and buy a new one would no longer have to pay stamp duty on the new property providing it cost them £500,000 or less.

This initiative doesn’t do much for first time buyers as they haven’t had to pay stamp duty on the first £300,000 of their first property for some time, however, previously they would of had to pay 5% on the excess amount between £300,001 – £500,000. 

As soon as this initiative was announced, the housing market picked up massively. The boost most definitely took place!

Home owners used this opportunity to save thousands of pounds. 

To give you an idea of how great this initiative is, check out this example:

Someone sells their house for £350,000, moves and buys a house for £400,000 as they want to upsize and have enough equity to do so. In 2019 and even up to 8 July 2020, they would of had to pay £10,000 in stamp duty. 

Fast forward to now, this person would pay £0 stamp duty hence the urgency in the housing market.

Many people are trying to move, upsize, downsize and the rest of it before the end of March 2021. April 2021 is the beginning of a new financial year and looking at the deficit the country is currently in due to furlough, bail out funds and the rest of it, we are all going to pay with the potential increase of taxes and the return of stamp duty!

We also have another issue on our hands. Due to the property demand being high, many are prepared to pay a lot more for certain properties in the way of a bidding war…

This is a discussion for next week. 

The 2018 Budget – Things you need to know

Stamp Duty – Travel – Income Taxes – Brexit

Reading Time: 4 mins

What does this mean for First-Time Buyers?

Nothing much has changed here.

However, for First-time buyers purchasing a property using the Help to Buy Shared Ownership scheme, an anomaly was fixed. Previously, buyers of a shared-ownership property would be taxed on the full market value of the home (up to £500,000) rather than only the share they were buying. If the full market value of the shared-ownership property was more than £500,000 the buyer would not have been eligible for any stamp duty reduction at all.

So, a buyer paying £125,000 for a 25 per cent share of a new home valued at £500,000 would still have had to pay £10,000 stamp duty – equivalent to five per cent of the sales price above £300,000.

Now, First Time buyers purchasing a property using the Help to Buy Shared Ownership scheme will only be eligible to pay stamp duty, if any at all, for the share they are buying. So, a buyer paying £125,000 for a 25 per cent share of a new home valued at £500,000 will not pay stamp duty.

Other stamp duty rates remain the same.

PURCHASE PRICE

STAMP DUTY RATE ON FIRST PROPERTY (1)

Up to £300,000

0%

£300,000.01 – £500,000

5%

What does this mean for people on £50K per annum salaries?

Previously, if you earned £46,350 per annum and above, you’d fall in to the higher rate tax payer threshold – you’d be taxed 40%

This has now been increased to £50,000 per annum – April 2019

What does this mean for the cost of travel?

No major changes have been made here.

Costs generally remain the same.

However there has been an introduction of a new rail card for 26-30 year olds providing 1/3 off most rail travel. This will be made available nationally by the end of the year.

Brexit? What happens now?

This is something that I will not dabble too deep in. After all, our Schools, Higher Education facilities and Government have barely wrapped their heads around this.

However, from the budget, it is clear that a lot of money is being pumped in to various regions to help supplement the immediate defects of suggesting and eventually leaving the European Union, however this is a grey area as we haven’t even established 1. Whether we’ll have a no deal Brexit 2. Whether we’ll have a Brexit deal 3. Whether there’ll be another referendum resulting in no Brexit at all.

The point I want to make here is the importance of understanding the political process and what your vote means. Keep your eyes peeled, ears open and remain attentive along the Brexit journey so that you know how the progress or lack of it, will affect you.

Read Newspapers, watch/listen to the news, question time and have a little fun with the internet -Ultimately, stay informed.

Stamp Duty: The Perks of being a First Time Buyer

Before you commit to buying your first home, stop, think and calculate!

Reading Time: 2mins 

The flat you can buy today on your current budget, equates to a house in a few years of patient saving.

As soon as you use your First Time Buyer rights, that’s it, they’re gone. Any property you buy thereafter will fall victim to *higher Stamp Duty rates.

After the Autumn 2017 Budget, it was announced that First Time buyers will not have to pay stamp duty for the first £300,000 of their purchase and £5,000 less on a purchase between £300,000 and £500,000.

The image below shows a representative example of how Stamp duty is calculated for a £500,000 property:

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 15.32.13

Any property over £500,000 is not eligible for Stamp Duty relief. So a £600,000 property would be subject to a hefty £20,000 stamp duty bill.

If you decide to buy a second home or a Buy-to-Let property, you will also have to pay an extra 3% stamp duty on top of the current rates for each band.

Below is a table for *standard Stamp Duty bands:

Minimum property purchase price

Maximum property purchase price

Stamp Duty rate (only applies only to the part of the property price falling within each band)

£0

£125,000

0%

£125,001

£250,000

2%

£250,001

£925,000

5%

£925,001

£1.5 million

10%

Over £1.5 million

12%

Patience is indeed key here.

Moving slightly away from stamp duty, as a first-time buyer there are also preferential Mortgage rates and products for you. Combining these deals with your discounted stamp duty, you are making a whopping saving as a first time buyer and shouldn’t let anxiety or this competitive nature that many millennial’s have distract you from your goal and ultimate saving opportunity.

Think about longevity, don’t live in the now.

Why buy an “okay” flat now for £150,000 (that you only intend to live in for 3 years) and waste your stamp duty discount, when you can buy a £300,000 property that you are much happier with in 2 years time a live a foreseeable future in?

Stop, think and calculate.