HMRC data shows 35% fall in number of property transactions – industry reacts


April saw the number of homes sold in the UK drop by over a third against the previous month, according to HMRC’s latest release of property transaction data.

Indeed, despite some 117,860 homes being sold during the month – the highest figure in any April since 2007 – transactions were down 35.7% from March. However, they are still up almost 180% when compared with April 2020. 

The news follows the recent figures revealed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) pointing to a 10.2% increase in the average UK house price seen between March 2020 and March 2021. 

The reaction to the figures was mixed from those in the industry, with some hailing the 

strength of the market, while others are wary of a potential drop in activity once the stamp duty holiday comes to an end. 

John Eastgate, managing director of Property Finance at Shawbrook Bank, claimed that fears of a volatile boom-and-bust cycle are wide of the mark. He added: “The long-term prognosis for housing remains positive. Opportunities are still out there for buyers and investors that have capital available and are keen to move. City centres that seem to have fallen out of favour in recent months still show promise as we head back to the office and return to a level of normality.”

Others were similarly upbeat. Sam Mitchell, CEO of Strike, said: “However, with not long to go until the June deadline, the countdown is officially back on and pressure is mounting. Combined with the uplift in 95% mortgage deals on offer, alongside the continued easing of lockdown restrictions, demand within the UK property market will likely be amplified in the months ahead.”

They added: “Some might be cautious of the stamp duty deadline fast approaching, but there are no signs of this derailing the market. In fact, with a tapering off period until October, low stock levels, rock-bottom interest rates and the introduction of the Government’s high loan-to-value lending scheme, there are more than enough factors to keep things buoyant.”

However, Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen, is erring on the side of caution, and said that the UK property market is showing signs of ‘fragility’. He added: “Concerns over whether activity levels will sustain once the stamp duty holiday is wound down are mounting.”

Others adopted a more neutral stance. Jonathan Sealey, CEO at Hope Capital said: “It’s important to put today’s figures into context as the non-adjusted level of transactions is almost 200 per cent up on April 2020. This was very much ground zero for the sector having just been plunged into lockdown and all the uncertainty that brought with it. So, even bearing in mind the slide we’ve seen today, we are still a long way from those dark days 12 months ago. And going forward there are real signs of optimism more widely with extremely positive retail sales figures out today, and forecasts for growth revised upwards to suggest a much stronger recovery to come this year.”