The government has been urged to take urgent action to help the thousands of people waiting anxiously on their property purchase.
The stamp duty land tax holiday deadline is set to end on 31 March but around 100,000 ongoing transactions remain at risk of not completing in time.
Practitioners now fear that some purchasers who miss the deadline may seek to withdraw offers, plunging the property market into chaos overnight.
Ahead of the budget on 3 March, the Law Society said this was an opportunity for chancellor Rishi Sunak to stop transactions collapsing at this cliff-edge.
‘It has become increasingly clear that the abrupt end of the holiday on 31 March combined with a bottleneck in the market could cause significant disruption,’ said president of the Law Society David Greene.
‘Thousands of transactions and chains could collapse at the last minute, leaving consumers who had hoped to take advantage of the concession to move into their dream home instead stranded and saddled with unrecoverable costs for transactions that fell through.’
The Society wants people to write to their MPs and express any concerns they might have before the budget announcement.
Suggested options for Sunak to take include extending the SDLT holiday to allow more time to complete transactions or to implement a tapered transition from the full holiday to allow buyers a reduced rate of stamp duty. An alternative could be introducing a so-called ‘grandfathering scheme’ for transactions which have already progressed significantly and can benefit from the tax holiday even if they complete after the deadline.
A report in the Telegraph over the weekend suggested Sunak was contemplating an extension of the stamp duty holiday to mid-May to allow current transactions to complete. But any longer-term extension or even removal of stamp duty altogether was not a viable option because of the cost to the Treasury, it was reported.