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Rush to buy as landlords aim to beat stamp duty hike

A north London estate agents has reported an increase in investors looking to buy before April in order to avoid having to pay higher stamp duty rates.

Jeremy Leaf, former RICS chairman and north London estate agent, claims there isn’t any time to lose and advises investment buyers to ensure they have a good solicitor and that they have taken mortgage advice.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Autumn Statement that landlords and investors will pay a 3% surcharge on stamp duty rates from April.

“On the ground, we have already noticed investors keen to buy before the middle of February so that they can complete by April and avoid the extra stamp duty take. Because of the tight timeframe, there is more risk in buying a property in a chain because of the chance of fall-through of the sale, leaving even less time to complete a transaction. Landlords may opt for new-build instead where there is no such risk and they have certainty of sale.

“Inevitably, we have seen examples of vendors taking advantage of landlords’ desperation to complete before the April deadline, with some being greedy on the price,” he said.

“Landlords, or indeed those buying a second home, who are keen to do a deal before April should also ensure they have a good solicitor on board and have spoken to an independent  mortgage broker about finance. With the NAEA warning in December of a typical 50-day wait for a mortgage offer, borrowers can’t afford to hang around by going direct to a lender. A mortgage broker will help them identify the lenders who can move quickly and get an offer out in time.”

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