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Buy-to-let boom fuels house sales surge

There was a 10% increase in the number of residential property transactions in the first quarter of the year compared with the previous quarter, fuelled largely by a rise in the number of landlords acquiring property ahead of stamp duty reforms for buy-to-let and second homes.

New figures show that the volume of homes changing hands in Q1 rose by 15% compared to last year, with the surge driven by huge demand from buy-to-let landlords, as investors moved to avoid paying the extra 3% stamp duty surcharge introduced by the government on 1 April 2016.

The rush to beat the stamp duty tax reforms for buy-to-let and second homes saw a post-recession Q1 record of 275,002 transactions registered between January and March 2016, according to the latest edition of the Conveyancing Market Tracker from Search Acumen, the search provider.

Mark Riddick, chairman of Search Acumen, said: “Conveyancers’ services have been in high demand so far this year as buyers of second homes and buy-to-let properties have created a stampede to beat the April 2016 stamp duty deadline. The artificial stimulus of government intervention has put major pressure on workloads: more than we’ve seen in the opening exchanges of any year since the recession and topping the pre-Mortgage Market Review rush of 2014.

“Our analysis points to another interesting trend in the market, where challenger firms have enjoyed the biggest benefits of the year-on-year rise in transactions. As conveyancers pause for breath after the stamp duty frenzy, there may be some who are left licking their wounds or feeling their business performance could have been better.

“Periods like this – when services come under pressure from extra demand – can be testing all round, and it’s important for conveyancers to ensure their systems and processes are fit to deliver for clients within acceptable time periods. Searches can stall transactions, which is why selecting the right search partner plays a vital role in reducing delays and ensuring your firm emerges unscathed.”

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