Property Q&A: Our experts answer your questions on stamp duty, the housing market and more 

With the stamp duty holiday due to end at the same time as the close of the furlough scheme and a rise in unemployment, the future of the property market is uncertain.  Transactions are forecast to fall dramatically, while there are signs house price growth is already slowing.  

Whether it’s about buy-to-let, stamp duty, house prices or something else, our property editor, Isabelle Fraser, will be joined by property correspondent, Melissa Lawford, and personal finance reporter, Marianna Hunt, as well as Andrew Boast of SAM Conveyancing to answer your questions on Friday 29 Jan at noon. 

How to ask a question

To ask a question ahead of time, leave it in the comments section at the bottom of this article or send your query to

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Why is the Government using schemes to inflate property prices? 

A very interesting topic here. Is it time that the Government stopped propping up the property market? 

Steve Laird asks: Isn’t it time for the Government to butt out of the property market rather than waste our money on schemes that keep house prices artificially high? 

Here’s what our property editor, Isabelle Fraser, has to say: 

There is a lot wrong with the property market: affordability is at a record low level, home ownership among young people is falling, while homelessness is high and renting is a nightmare. This kind of dysfunction requires some kind of government intervention, in my opinion. 

But what that means is obviously up for debate. The Help to Buy scheme, which offers people a way to buy a new-build home with a 5pc deposit, has been shown to have pushed up house prices while boosting the profits of housebuilders. It’s now being tapered but it probably should have been tweaked a while ago – but I would argue that the fundamentals of it were helpful, but it was done in the wrong way. 

The kind of Government intervention in the market that I think would be helpful would be to boost the number of homes built for renting, and work with institutional investors to provide more affordable/below market rent homes. This is where the biggest deficit is, and is the part of the market where for-profit businesses are less interested in.


How can I ensure a deal is completed to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday? 

Right, it’s time to get started. Our first question comes from Charles Sheppard, who wants to know how he can push through a deal so he can take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. 

Charles says: As of January 25, I have had an offer accepted on a property and we are finalising our mortgage. The seller has no chain and neither do we. I wondered what chance there is I could complete before March 31 to benefit from the stamp duty holiday? 

Here’s what our property correspondent, Melissa Lawford, has to say: 

I would love to be the bringer of better news but I’m afraid that the honest answer is that your chances are slim. In 2020, analysis by Hamptons International estate agents showed 34pc of sales agreed in January completed by March 31. By February, the share fell to 10pc. But back then the average time between an agreed sale and completion was 12 weeks, now it is 20.

It will definitely help being chain free, but that will not make you immune to the other logistical delays that are plaguing every stage of the buying process due to massive demand and the complications of lockdown. One crucial aspect will be your local authority search.

In some areas the average wait time is 42 days, but this can be a postcode lottery as some councils are struggling much more than others. It will be worth asking your estate agent what the average wait times are in your area. Here are some other tips for transacting as quickly as possible.


Q&A is starting in ten minutes 

Afternoon all. Thank you for joining another Q&A. Our expert property team will be hand to answer your questions from noon. 

We’ve been inundated with pre-submitted questions but we will do our best to answer as many of your queries as possible. 

Our property editor, Isabelle Fraser, will be joined by property correspondent, Melissa Lawford, and personal finance reporter, Marianna Hunt, as well as Andrew Boast of SAM Conveyancing for the next hour as we work our way through your questions. 

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