Lewisham Council could cost house buyers thousands in fees

By Toby Porter

Buyers hoping to complete on the purchase of homes in one borough have the lowest chances of qualifying for the Stamp Duty holiday.

Residents hoping to tie up a property purchase in Lewisham have to wait longer than anywhere in the country, according to new figures.

Lewisham council appeared in the worst 10 nationally for slowest turnaround time for searches in the country – 45 working days in some cases – significantly holding up conveyancing.

But there is now little more than a month until the deadline to qualify for Stamp Duty holiday, which ends on June 30.

That could cost prospective buyers thousands. By context, Ashfield District Council in Nottingham takes just five days for these to be returned, according to the research from online mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages, which looked at average conveyancing times for councils across the country.

Prospective buyers in Lewisham are some of the least likely in the UK to complete on time.

The councils with the slowest local authority searches and most likely to delay conveyancing ahead of Stamp Duty deadline on 30 June 2021

Local Authority Working days delay in returning searches How many weeks? Total conveyancing time (weeks)
Hackney Council




London Borough of Havering




Dorset Council 




Durham County Council




Newcastle City Council




Lewisham Council




Lichfield District Council




Plymouth City Council




Salisbury City Council




South Staffordshire District Council




Wiltshire Council




Barnet Council




If purchases were not completed in these regions by 30 June 2021, it could lead to additional Stamp Duty costs for homebuyers purchasing a semi-detached as their next home as follows**:

Local Authority Main town / area Average price for semi-detached house (£) Stamp duty to pay (£)***
Hackney Council Hackney £1,295,558 £70,805
London Borough of Havering Havering £492,062 £12,103
Dorset Council Weymouth £276,380 £1,319
Durham County Council Durham £162,972 £0
Newcastle City Council Newcastle upon Tyne £209,588 £0
Lewisham Council Lewisham £862,190 £30,609
Lichfield District Council Lichfield £283,824 £1,691
Plymouth City Council Plymouth £220,698 £0
Salisbury City Council Salisbury £332,435 £4,121
South Staffordshire District Council Codsall £247,827 £0
Wiltshire Council Trowbridge £241,733 £0
Barnet Council Barnet £716,605 £23,330

Richard Hayes, CEO at Mojo Mortgages, said: “The Stamp Duty holiday, and the savings of up to £15,000 that come with it, has helped thousands of people buy new homes.

“The recent extension is good news for the many thousands of buyers still currently worried they would miss these savings, however with just eight weeks to go until the deadline there will be many wondering if they are going to complete on time, with conveyancers doing all they can to keep clients happy.

“Although these times are average and theoretical, they do help people realise how long things can take, and how tight it could be. If they do think they are at risk, it’s really important they speak to their conveyancer about no-search indemnity insurance.

“Of course, there is definitely the flip side of the coin where mortgages and conveyancing can get sorted much quicker than you expect. 

“In the last few months, Mojo has helped many people go from mortgage comparison to completion with keys in their hand in around 30 days.”

David Darlington, Partner at Fieldings Porter, said: “When it comes to the upcoming June Stamp Duty deadline, I do think that for some regions of the UK such as the north west and north east it will be less important than the one in October when it reverts to £125,000 as the property prices are lower with lots of properties under the £250k mark.

“That said, there are larger homes in those areas which do still trade in the £250k – £500k range and for those there will be marked difference in the stamp duty payable after June 30, so it’s important that they start the conveyancing process immediately as there is lots of pressure on the searches, and the conveyancing system as a whole at the moment. 

“Even those which start now do not have a guarantee that they will complete in time for the end of June, but there is still a chance. It will partly be down to the requirements of the lender and buyer in relation to searches and the lead times in the locality.

“We have seen some searches coming back within a couple of days from one local authority and taking 5 – 6 weeks for a neighbouring one so buyers should discuss this with their solicitor or conveyancer as soon as they instruct them if the stamp duty deadline is important to them.”

As well as the 3-month extension of the up-to-£500,000 “nil-rate band” until the end of June, no Stamp Duty will be payable on residential property purchases up to £250,000 until 30 September 2021.

For the full list of local authorities and their current search times, please visit https://mojomortgages.com/mortgage-news/can-you-buy-a-home-before-the-new-stamp-duty-holiday-deadline

Figures taken from the Money Advice Service’s stamp duty calculator: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/house-buying/stamp-duty-calculator


Lewisham Council could cost house buyers thousands in fees

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Lewisham Council could cost house buyers thousands in feesLewisham Council could cost house buyers thousands in fees

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