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Housing transactions soar to give second busiest month in 14 years – HMRC

  • 23/03/2021
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Housing transactions soar to give second busiest month in 14 years – HMRC
Housing transactions soared last month to make it the busiest February in fourteen years as buyers rushed to meet the original stamp duty deadline and the surge in lockdown demand continued.


According to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), 147,050 residential property transactions were completed in February – the second highest on a seasonally adjusted basis since February 2007.

The only month with a higher figure was the spike in March 2016 caused by the introduction of the stamp duty surcharge for additional properties when 176,500 transactions were completed.

The total last month was 48 per cent higher than February 2020 and 23 per cent higher than January 2021.

It also marked the fifth consecutive month with more than 100,000 residential transactions, a series which had not been accomplished since the end of 2017.

HMRC highlighted that the figures were likely impacted by temporarily increased nil rate bands for Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in England and Northern Ireland, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland and the Land Transaction Tax (LTT) in Wales.

It also likely captures impacts from forestalling, as taxpayers sought to file returns for completed transactions during February in time for the original increased SDLT nil rate band policy end date of 31 March 2021, and before the policy was extended at Budget 2021.


Good prospects for brokers

Nick Barnes, head of research at Chestertons, agreed that February’s sales were largely driven by buyers rushing to meet the stamp duty holiday deadline and an increasingly positive mood.

“Buyer confidence was further boosted by the well-organised vaccine rollout, the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions and people’s general desire to return to some form of normality,” he said.

“As a result, Chestertons saw a 78 per cent increase in sales compared to the same period in 2020 and a 56 per cent increase compared to January this year.”

Jonathan Stinton, head of intermediary relationships at Coventry Building Society, added that the strong numbers in February were very positive news for brokers in the short and long term.

“The initial March deadline for the stamp duty holiday deadline will have pushed these numbers higher than usual,” he said.

“The recent holiday extension and government support on high loan to value (LTV) loans should build on this momentum and keep these numbers high for the next few months.

“A great February also means brokers have potentially secured new clients for further business and that bodes well for the early parts of 2023 and 2026 as those two and five-year deals come to an end.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of SPF Private Clients agreed, noting that with people looking for more space and wanting to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday and low mortgage rates, activity is brisk.

“With lenders returning to high loan-to-value mortgages, this trend is likely to continue,” he said.

“This will contribute a further flurry of buyers to the mix who may have previously thought they couldn’t get on the housing ladder with such a modest deposit but are now able to do so.

“Yorkshire and Skipton building societies are out of the blocks with their 95% offerings, with other lenders poised to follow suit over coming weeks,” he added.



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