Property transaction numbers rise in Feb: HMRC


February saw 2% more residential property transactions than occurred in January, says HMRC.

In total, and measured non-seasonally, there were 76,920 property transactions in February. And although this is a slight rise on January’s figure, it was 18% lower than a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted estimate says there were 90,340 transactions, which is 4% lower on the month and 18% lower on the year.

Meanwhile, HRMC reports 8,710 non-residential property transactions measured non-seasonally – 8% more than in January and 7% less on the year, and, seasonally adjusted, 9,870 non-residential transactions.

According to this latter number, this is 5% growth compared to January 2023 and is 7% lower than the year previous.

Andrews estate agents group chief executive Carl Howard says: “While the year-on-year seasonally adjusted decrease of 18% in completed sales for February doesn’t paint a rosy picture, market angst about 2023 transactions feels overdone.

“The 4% monthly decline reflects a filtering through of the cooling effect of high interest rates, coupled with the soaring lending rates that characterised the Liz Truss era. However, a spring bounce is on the cards and it is more likely we will see a ‘return to the mean’ following three unusual years during the pandemic.

“Buyers who were hunkering down at the end of 2022 are now steadily returning to the market, encouraged by settled mortgage rates, cooling inflation and the prospect of striking a bargain. Sellers are playing their part here too, with more prepared to be flexible on price in order to get deals over the line.

“Although new data from Rightmove shows that prices have risen 0.8% in March, the decline in consumers’ spending power, coupled with the potential for recession later this year, means many people will still be keeping a watching brief on this market from the sidelines. The next six months will be pivotal for the market.”

And Yopa chief analyst Mike Scott comments: “Sales that completed in February will largely have been agreed last autumn, in the immediate aftermath of the interest rises.

“We are now seeing signs that activity is picking up again, and we expect the number of sales to return to more normal levels later in the year, though not to return to the very high level of activity that we saw between mid-2020 and mid-2022.

“House prices should respond similarly, so we also expect them to return to modest growth in the second half of the year.”

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