House sale volumes increased by 16% month-on-month in May – HMRC

23 June 2020, 10:44

House sales
House sales. Picture: PA

Across the UK, an estimated 48,450 residential property transactions took place, which was 49.6% lower than in May 2019.

House sales were up by 16% month-on-month in May, but still about half the level seen a year earlier, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures.

Across the UK, an estimated 48,450 residential property transactions took place, which was 49.6% lower than in May 2019, when 96,050 sales were recorded.

England’s property market started to gradually reopen from May 13, so the figures are an indication of sales which had been paused before the lockdown, starting to go through.

HMRC records property transactions worth £40,000 or more. It sounded a note of caution about its latest figures, saying they are “provisional” as they are based on incomplete data.

The report said transaction levels in the second quarter of 2020 have decreased to levels similar to late 2008 and early 2009, reflecting impacts from coronavirus and UK Government public health measures introduced from late March 2020 to limit transmission of the virus.

The fall in transactions from late 2007 coincided with the financial crisis.

Andrew Southern, chairman of property developer Southern Grove, said: “The level of transactions still looks decidedly muted but a 16% monthly increase is actually relatively good.”

He continued: “The vast majority of these transactions will represent sales put on hold by the coronavirus shutdown so, at this point, HMRC’s figures are not an indicator of how buyers and sellers are flooding back to the market.

“House builders should be confident that this is, in fact, happening, with data from property portals suggesting high levels of listings, strong asking prices and agreed sales that are coming remarkably close to those valuations.

“The HMRC figures to watch will come much later in the autumn when they will reflect the post-lockdown activity of May and June.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “Looking forward, listings are increasing which is encouraging and likely to bring more balance.

“But on the other hand, we have concerns that most of the demand is for smaller family houses rather than smaller flats, as aspiring first-time buyers remain concerned over future employment prospects post-furlough.”

By Press Association

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