On 8 July 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a suspension of the tax paid on property purchases with immediate effect in England and Northern Ireland. The suspension came into effect slightly later, on 15 July in Scotland and 27 July in Wales. In England and Northern Ireland, properties up to the value of £500,000 would incur no tax, while the thresholds for Scotland and Wales were £250,000. These changes in the tax paid on housing transactions may have allowed sellers to request higher prices as buyers’ overall costs are reduced.
As the tax breaks were originally due to conclude at the end of March 2021, it is likely that this inflated March’s average house prices as buyers rushed to ensure their house purchases were scheduled to complete ahead of this deadline. The monthly property transactions statistics published by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show that the seasonally adjusted number of transactions in March 2021 were estimated to be 183,170, the highest on record, but in April 2021 they fell to 117,860 – a fall of 36%.
On 3 March 2021, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an extension to the Stamp Duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland until 30 June 2021, after which, the threshold will decrease to £250,000 until 30 September 2021. From 1 October 2021, the Stamp Duty thresholds will revert to what they were before 8 July 2020. The tax holiday for Scotland ended on 31 March 2021. The tax holiday has been extended until 30 June 2021 in Wales.