Property transactions “resilient” despite uncertainty

Property transactions soared almost 14 per cent in the year to May, according to the latest figures from HMRC.

Some 96,220 property transactions were recorded in May, up 13.7 per cent from the same month last year when there were 83,000 transactions.

UK transactions were also up 7.3 per cent month-on-month, from 89,170 in April.

Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy says: ‘This should help to allay concerns from some who are suggesting that consumer confidence in property so far this year has taken a battering.’

However, the Revenue has warned that an unusually low number of transactions in May 2016 means the increase is not as impressive as it seems.

Year-to-date transactions are also down on last year. Some 503,270 transactions were recorded between January and May 2016, bolstered by a surge buy-to-let purchases ahead of the introduction of the increased stamp duty levy on second homes.

This year just 455,130 transactions have been recorded over the same period, some 10 per cent lower.

The fall in transactions is thought to be partly due to homeowners taking advantage of low interest rates and remortgaging rather than moving.

Search Acumen director Andy Sommerville says: ‘While spring normally sees a flurry of activity, the snap election has slightly dampened buyers’ and sellers’ interest and means that transactions have been steady rather than spectacular.

‘But despite this uncertainty the market has nevertheless remained resilient.’

 Mr Murphy adds: ‘It is worth noting that May property completions would mainly be as a result of transactions started in March and April, therefore the impact of the General Election won’t start to be represented in the figures until the July data is released.

‘But as a temperature check of overall confidence in the UK housing market, it’s reasonable to suggest that we are in calm waters for now.’