HMRC’s provisional monthly housing data revealed March residential transactions to be the highest month on record, when looking at non-seasonally adjusted figures, and 50 per cent up on the previous month.
Following the closure of the housing market at the start of the pandemic until May and June, year-on-year decreases of around 50 per cent were seen in March and April. Since then, UK residential transactions have gradually increased.
A combination of the increase in the nil-rate stamp duty threshold to £500,000 and a race to beat the original stamp duty deadline of the end of March were the driving forces behind the bumper month that saw a 108 per cent rise in transactions year-on-year, the government said.
In the Budget on 3 March, the chancellor announced the deadline for the end of the holiday would be extended until the end of June before gradually tapering off.
John Phillips, national operations director, Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart said a rise in savings built up over lockdown had also led to increased housing activity.
“The spike in property transactions in March have undoubtedly had a helping hand from the collective accumulation of additional savings during lockdown among UK households,” he said. “This is estimated to total a whopping £180bn and will be a contributory factor as to why people are relocating to larger properties with more outdoor space.
“As we look forward, this demand is only set to increase as those with smaller deposits will be entering heated waters thanks to the government’s new 95 per cent mortgage guarantee scheme.
“With the scheme affording more first-time-buyers the opportunity to get a foot on the housing ladder, we can safely hypothesise that this, coupled with the successful vaccine rollout and increased confidence in the economy, will inevitably add to the sharp-set hunger in the market.”