Compared to November, this was a 13.1 per cent increase, driven by continued pent up demand and the incentive of the stamp duty holiday.
Although transactions steadily rose since the reopening of the property market and the stamp duty holiday announcement, the total number of sales for the year dropped 11.5 per cent to 1.04 million.
This was dragged down by the second quarter of 2020 which saw the lowest number of quarterly transactions since Q1 2009 due to pandemic-related restrictions.
Stamp duty speculation
Andrew Montlake, managing director at Coreco, said: “December saw property transactions reach fever pitch as people rushed to beat the stamp duty deadline. The worry now is of a collapse in property transactions from April onwards when the stamp duty holiday ends, although overall levels are likely to be roughly the same as in 2020.
“Many people are banking on the chancellor caving in to pressure and extending the deadline, but for now activity levels in the property and mortgage market are nothing short of frantic.”
Mike Scott, chief analyst at estate agency Yopa, added: “These figures show that the housing market returned to normal quickly after it was closed during the first lockdown, and wasn’t affected by the second lockdown when estate agents were allowed to stay open and conduct viewings.
“We expect that the market will remain very active in the first quarter of this year, with the number of sales peaking in March as buyers rush to beat the stamp duty deadline, and then slow down in the second quarter before recovering to normal levels in the second half of the year.”
He said: “Slowdowns after previous stamp duty deadlines have been quite shallow and brief, and we expect the same to happen this time, especially since life will hopefully be returning to normal later in the year and moving house will be easier.”