How to get a faster sale to avoid paying stamp duty


If you’re in the process of selling your current home and purchasing a new one, you will certainly have taken notice of the stamp duty holiday announced by the government in 2020. With just over two months to go until the stamp duty holiday deadline on March 31st buyers who want to take advantage will have to communicate carefully in order to meet the date.

Tony Hughes, CEO at leading specialists in sales, communications and negotiations training and pioneers of the world-famous SPIN® Selling, Huthwaite International, offers advice on how to fast track your sale ahead of the stamp duty cut off.


Communication is the key to the door

With house sales, there’s often multiple parties involved, all of whom have their own agenda. If you’re not clear about your time constraint they can claim they did not know. Don’t be afraid to take charge and lay your requirements on the table in order to make things happen faster. Making sure you’re organised and communicating clearly will encourage other parties to do the same.

Face-to-face contact may be limited, but it’s not an excuse for paperwork and other requirements to fall through the gaps at both ends. Be prepared to respond to emails promptly and ask for exactly what you want and need to make the sale go through in time. You must make all parties aware there is a deadline that needs to be met.

Find out what the best channel for communication is and stick to it. However, if in doubt, pick up the phone. While it’s good to have everything in writing, there are a number of ways to irritate people via email. Without being able to read people’s expressions and tone of voice, messages can be construed incorrectly and a negative email can be incredibly damaging to a relationship. In picking up the phone you’re able to communicate more clearly using verbal behaviours and able to avoid any awkward miscommunications.


Knowledge means power

In any property sale there are challenges, particularly if there’s a chain. Find out what exactly is behind any delays or issues and make it part of your routine to keep checking in. Ask your agent what forces are acting on your prospective buyer. It could be time pressure, lack of alternative properties or sunk costs such as surveys. In finding out the answers, you can use them to hold on to your negotiation position.

Now you have the power, make sure to hide your weakness and emphasise your strengths. Minimise the pressure you’re under in your own buying chain, and emphasise the unique attractions that are the reasons the buyer wanted your house in the first place – if they pull out now they’ll lose all of that, and likely their opportunity to save on Stamp Duty too.


Emotions welcome

Whilst us Brits may be used to adopting a stiff upper lip, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are all first and foremost human beings. What does that mean for your sale? Well simply put, don’t be afraid of using emotion to convey the need to move quickly. Displaying empathy, and showing your own emotions can strengthen a position during negotiations.

Ultimately, by showing some emotion, you are able to set out your position clearly and concisely – helping to create a more responsive environment. It also builds a sense of trust, after all – nobody can argue with how you might feel.


The art of persuasion

As the stamp duty deadline draws closer, solicitors will be under high pressure to push sales through. Encouraging your solicitor to prioritise your sale will be a must in the lead up to the 31st March. We persuade every day, on everyday things. It’s part of basic human interaction and most of the time it’s instinctive and subconscious. But when we’re dealing with something that matters so much to us, the stakes become high and this previously instinctive behaviour becomes conscious as we strive to achieve the best outcome possible.

Having an appreciation of the other person’s point of view creates a solid foundation for a constructive conversation. Acknowledge the pressure your solicitor is under, sympathise and gently make your case. Again, aggressive and irritating behaviours will inevitably work against you, so stay calm. If you’ve communicated politely in previous interactions, you’re also more likely to get what you want.


Don’t ask, don’t get

A negotiator faced with an unreasonable demand only ten minutes into a negotiation is likely to reject it, even if it could potentially jeopardise the entire negotiation. However, if the negotiation has been going for several months and progress towards an agreement has been made, it’s much less likely that the negotiator will jeopardise the success of the discussions by rejecting demands.

This means, if you need to make a specific request in the later stages of the house buying/selling process – do it. The other party has an equal investment in the negotiation. Are they prepared to write off all they’ve invested by rejecting a last-minute request? Probably not.


Save the best for last

Most people possess a natural sense of fair play, which means, they feel guilty and unreasonable when someone puts forward an important request in a negotiation that they reject. This can be used to your advantage.

By making a request that you know full well your solicitor cannot agree to, you will make the other party feel guilty for turning you down. By refusing on this important issue, they feel some measure of guilt and feel obliged to make concessions on the next point raised as a show of good faith. Save your most important request for last, or even tone your original request down in order to appear as though you are compromising.

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