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March purchases up 0.5% as market returns to normal – HMRC

  • 21/04/2017
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March purchases up 0.5% as market returns to normal – HMRC
Almost 103,000 residential property transactions were completed last month, an increase of 0.5% compared with February.

The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) data showed that 9% of the annual transactions for 2016-17 were received in March 2017, which it said was in line with the years prior to 2015-16.

HMRC noted that comparisons with early 2016 remained difficult due to the spike in sales prior to the increase in Stamp Duty.

This means sales fell by 40% compared to the exceptional peak in March 2016.

Commentators remain uncertain how the market will react to the double whammy of the Brexit negotiations and the surprise General Election announcement.

LMS chief executive Andy Knee noted that transaction numbers plateaued in the immediate run-up to Theresa May’s declaration of Article 50 as buyers and sellers paused to see if the declaration would impact the housing market.

“However, the warning signs for the wider market remain ever-present,” he said.

“With a general election and Brexit negotiations likely to throw the market into an uncertain realm, the wisest course of action would be to act now while market conditions are relatively stable.”


Don’t delay

This concern was echoed by Trussle CEO Ishaan Malhi, who added: “With a general election now on the horizon, I expect activity may dip again as buyers and homeowners adopt the wait and see attitude that we’ve seen in previous elections.

“This usually then leads to a bounce back in activity once the result is known.

“With interest rates still at rock-bottom levels for now, I hope first-time buyers and people looking to move home don’t delay their decisions for too long. Locking in a good fixed rate now could potentially save them a lot of money in the long run,” he added.

However, former Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors residential chairman Jeremy Leaf, was less concerned.

“It will take a while for the hiccough 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,” he said.

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