The number of housing transactions completed in September hit 98,010, returning to parity with the same month last year, according to data from HM Revenue and Customs.
The total was up 21.3 per cent from August and just 0.7 per cent lower than September 2019 – highlighting the remarkable turnaround after being closed down in March.
House moves were only allowed to recommence in England on 13 May with significant restrictions in place for all parties involved.
Scotland and Wales did not open their housing markets until the end of June but under tighter restrictions than England had permitted.
Pent-up demand and stamp duty
Publishing the data, HMRC said provisional residential transaction estimates in September have noticeably increased compared to August.
This was “likely due to the continued release of pent-up demand within the property market since March and early impacts from the temporarily increased nil rate band of stamp duty”.
However, the year-to-date total number of completions is still lagging around 22 per cent behind the typical level.
So far around 693,000 housing transactions have been completed in 2020, this compares to 882,000 in 2019 and 890,000 in 2018.
Non-residential transactions have also seen a notable uptick, though to a lesser degree, with 9,160 transactions completed in September – 18.7 per cent more than August but still 6.3 per cent lower than September 2019.
Former Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors residential chairman Jeremy Leaf noted the burning hot market had started to subside a little.
“What we have noticed since activity cooled a little over the last few weeks is that very few buyers are withdrawing from transactions and very few instructions are being withdrawn from sale,” he said.
“Prices are sometimes being renegotiated to take into account current realities – in other words, much the same as was happening immediately after lockdown at the end of March.”
Andrew Southern, chairman of property developer Southern Grove, added: “This current expansion of activity is not all down to financial incentives and the government needs to find ways of sustaining this increase in sales beyond the New Year when the March deadline for the end of the stamp duty holiday will be staring buyers down.
“There is already talk of some missing out because of severe delays to the conveyancing process tripping up even those who have had offers accepted and are trying to exchange now.”