Sharp decline in property transactions as stamp duty deadline approaches

Residential property transactions in April were 35.7% lower than in March, according to the latest data from HMRC.

The provisional seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential transactions in April reached 117,860, the figures show.

Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen, said: “This latest data shows the fragility of the UK property market. Concerns over whether activity levels will sustain once the stamp duty holiday is wound down are mounting.

“The drop in transactions over the last month has been partly driven by buyers putting home purchases on ice until they had greater clarity over the stamp duty holiday.”

While transactions are down by a third month-on-month in April, as competition from buyers tailed off slightly after the rush to meet the initial stamp duty deadline, on the ground, agents are as busy as ever, according to Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops.

He says that the number of new applicants that registered with his firm’s branches last month was on par with the number that signed up when the market reopened last June, with 22 buyers chasing every instruction the network of branches.

“I would suggest that anyone considering selling their home to do so now while the market conditions are so favourable and there is still room for further price growth,” said Leeming.

Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, commented: “With just over a month to go until the end of the stamp duty holiday the push to beat another deadline is definitely under way.

“However, as the deadline approaches and conveyancers are put under pressure, to finalise transactions, the numbers for May and June are likely to mirror those in March.

“The fear was that the market would take a nose-dive at the end of the holiday, but with so many transactions already in the pipeline, that fear could be unfounded. Many people are looking to move away from major towns and cities since the pandemic and the stamp duty holiday may not be the only driver for the current increased demand.”

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