Buyers rush to beat stamp duty deadline

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SOLICITORS across Britain report a boost in conveyancing work as house buyers rush to beat the reintroduction of stamp duty, expected on 19 August.

Mark Unsworth, of West End of London solicitors Unsworth Rose, claims business is up more than 50 per cent over the period before the suspension of duty, announced by Chancellor Norman Lamont last December.

Hertfordshire firm Stanley Tee & Company confirms there is 'a noticeable buzz' among clients and estate agents as the deadline looms. 'We're getting a lot of calls from prospective clients wanting to know if we can do the deals by then,' said a spokesman.

However, lawyers do not see this as evidence of a general strengthening of the market. Rather, people who are moving anyway are keen to take advantage of the lower cost, said Foster Baxter Cooksey of Wolverhampton.

Cathy Anderson, of City firm Elias Freeman, said that although the suspension of duty has been a stimulus, it would not have any great effect because of the fundamental problem that people cannot afford to take out mortgages.

Stanley Tee & Company said the Chancellor's attempt to boost the market had not made any difference until near the end of the suspension. The idea they would pay more after the deadline was causing a bunching of work. But it was likely the market would be even worse after the duty returned, he said.