UK

UK property transactions rise in March

UK property
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The number of completed property transactions rise in March, according to the latest HMRC figures

The seasonally adjusted number of sales in March was 1.4 per cent higher than in February, and 6.8 per cent higher than in March last year, according to the latest figures released by HM Revenue and Customs.

The report found that the seasonally adjusted UK property transaction count for March 2019 was 101,830 residential and 11,210 non-residential transactions.

Year-on-year, UK non-seasonally adjusted residential transactions in March 2019 were approximately 0.4 per cent higher than March 2018, while non-adjusted non-residential transactions were approximately 9.2 per cent higher than March 2018.

The seasonally adjusted count of non-residential property transactions increased by 8.9 per cent between February and March, and is 9.7 per cent higher than March 2018.

Joshua Elash, director MT Finance, said that there is a danger that an overall number of transactions for the country as a whole masks an unhealthy market, which in large parts is either stagnant or in decline and empowers the government to continue with its strategy of an overly-aggressive stamp duty regime.

He said that on face value, transactional volumes are slightly up which in light of the general surrounding circumstances is a win. It is to be seen what this transactional volume equates to in net stamp duty revenues to HMRC. The suspicion is that the volumes reflect increased activity in the regions and secondary cities, which would be consistent with the recent house price data released by the Land Registry. But transactional volumes in London and the South East, where higher value properties yield higher stamp duty returns, remain suppressed.

Director of Legal and General Mortgage Club, Kevin Roberts said that while existing homeowners remain largely undeterred by the current political climate, it is clear there are still other barriers preventing people from achieving their homeownership goals.

Roberts said that the continued support from the government to help those lower down the housing ladder is to be welcomed, but if property transactions are to be increased, this means helping those at the other end too.

A stamp duty holiday for ‘last-time buyers’, for example, would enable these borrowers to move to more suitable accommodation, whether that be a two-bed bungalow or retirement village, freeing up larger homes often in school catchment areas for growing families, he added.

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