Figures from HMRC show that residential property transactions fell more than 40 per cent in the year to March.
There were 102,810 residential transactions recorded in March and the seasonally adjusted data released found that, while this was a rise of 0.5 per cent on February, the figure was 40.9 per cent lower than in March of last year.
However, in it’s report, HMRC says that the significant year-on-year drop is “due to the unusually high transaction count in March 2016,” in which buyers rushed to beat the Stamp Duty hike imposed in April.
For March 2017, the number of non-adjusted residential transactions was about 20.9 per cent higher compared with February 2017 but HMRC says no direct comparison should be made between March 2016 and March 2017 due to the large peak in March 2016, on a non-adjusted basis.
North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf says: “Figures such as those from the HMRC which record actual property transactions are much more relevant than rival indices reflecting price changes because they more accurately depict the health of the housing market rather than simply make people feel better about themselves.
“It will take a while for the hiccup in the market caused by the stamp duty surcharge introduced this time last year to ease but overall the market seems in good health and unlikely to be swayed too much by the General Election at this stage.”
Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy says: “The data released from HMRC this morning relates to transactions volumes for the UK, and provides us with an absolute figure in terms of the number of completed Residential transactions for the first quarter of 2017.
“The total unadjusted figure of 102,740 residential property transactions for the UK in March suggests a month on month increase of 20.9 per cent, which will be welcomed by many in the industry as a measure of positive sentiment.
“Clearly, given the buy-to-let spike in March 2016 which resulted in 171,370 residential transactions (unadjusted) for the month – the highest number of transactions in a month for 10 years – any year on year comparison would be skewed and therefore not relevant to current conditions.
“However it’s perhaps worth noting that in March 2015, which is largely considered by most industry commentators as a ‘normal’ period given that there were no significant events that would have impacted the housing market, the unadjusted figure was 91,490, again a reassuring indicator. On the same basis, it’s also interesting to compare Q1 2015, which saw 247,780 residential transactions (unadjusted) with the total for the same period this year, which was 268,310, a 7.65 per cent increase.”