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How is coronavirus impacting buying a property?

If you’re in the market to buy a property, you probably have questions about how coronavirus is going to impact your plans.

According to Zoopla’s UK Cities House Price Index, the demand for housing fell by 70% between the start of March 2020 and the week ending 29 March.

However, Zoopla reported that in August new sales were 76% ahead of the five-year average and the number of new homes coming on to the market is 50% up on the same time last year.

Are mortgages still available?

Yes, mortgages are still available. 

However, there are a few types of mortgages where you may be asked to apply via telephone or online, rather than in person, due to social distancing conditions. Keep in mind, decisions on mortgage applications may take a little longer than usual. 

For customers applying for a mortgage with HSBC, we’re now completing property valuations across the UK. Safety is a continuing priority, so all surveyors are issued with PPE and trained to use it.

Explore more: Applying for a mortgage

What is the Stamp Duty holiday?

England and Northern Ireland

If you don’t currently own a home, the government will temporarily not charge Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the first £500,000 of the price of a residential property, purchased in England and Northern Ireland. This reduction applies from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. An extra 3% SDLT will still apply if buying a property means you’ll own more than 1 property.    

So, during this time, if you buy your first, or only main home, in England or Northern Ireland for £500,000 or less, you will not have to pay SDLT. If you buy a property for more than £500,000, or an additional property, you will pay significantly less in SDLT if buying during this temporary period.

Scotland

The starting threshold for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) for residential property transactions has been raised from £145,000 to £250,000.  

This applies to all relevant transactions where the effective date is between 15 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 (inclusive of these dates).

So, during this time if you buy your first, or only, property in Scotland for £250,000 or less, you will not have to pay LBTT. If you buy a property for more than £250,000, or an additional property, you will pay significantly less in LBTT.

Wales

Changes to the Land Transaction Tax (LTT) rates and thresholds apply to residential property purchases from 27 July 2020 to 31 March 2021. The starting threshold for LTT main property residential rates is set at £250,001.  

This means those buying their only property costing up to £250,000 will pay no LTT and those buying their only property for more than £250,000, for example £250,001, will make a saving of £2,450. These changes will not apply to those buying property as an investment, or those owning more than one property after the transaction.

Has the affordability assessment changed?

Given the unique situations that many people are in, there have been some changes to how affordability is being assessed by banks. It’s important that if your income has recently changed, or you think it’s likely to change in the future, you include this in your application.

Government income support scheme changes, effective from 01 November 2020:

  • the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is ending, meaning the government will no longer provide furlough income
  • the governments Job Support Scheme commences to support income

How does this impact your application?

We only include earned income for the actual hours you worked and were paid for by your employer when we assess your application. Meaning, only earned income evidenced in your latest payslip will be assessed.

For joint applications, our assessment is based on the combined earned income evidenced by the payslips of both applicants.

If you’re completing your application online, without advice, you will need to enter your income equal to the earned income on your payslip.

Please take this into account before submitting your application. If your circumstances have recently changed, you may choose to submit your application once your payslip reflects your most up to date circumstance.

How we’ll use your payslip:

  • If your working hours have recently increased, this will need to be evidenced by your payslip to be included in our assessment
  • If your payslip includes only furlough scheme income, your earned income will be included as £0 in our assessment
  • If your current payslip includes a mix of furlough or Job Support scheme income and earned income, only your earned income will be included in our assessment

Explore more: Applying for a mortgage with a variable income or zero-hours contract

Will your Decision in Principle be impacted?

If you have a Decision in Principle, this will only be affected if your income has since changed. For example, if you’ve been furloughed you’ll need to let your prospective lender know your changed income. If you have completed a Decision in Principle online with HSBC and have had some changes to your income, you can get an updated decision.

Can you make an offer on a property?

You are able to make an offer and negotiate with a seller.

However, there may be delays in the buying process due to government guidance. Things like viewing and assessing properties may be slower due to social distancing measures. It’s a good idea to check in with your conveyancer to find out how they’re currently working.

Explore more: Steps to buying your first home

Can you move home?

The government asked people to try and postpone moving home during lockdown. However, as some parts of the lockdown have lifted, it is now okay to move. This government advice could change and we'll update our website with all the latest guidance on coronavirus.

Can you remortgage or switch mortgages?

It's still possible to remortgage or switch mortgage rates. Again, if you’re in the process of remortgaging, or switching mortgage rates, and your income has been impacted, you’ll need to let your lender know.

Explore more: Remortgaging

Explore more: Borrowing more on an HSBC mortgage

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