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Residential transactions surge by a fifth against pre-pandemic levels in May – ONS

  • 22/06/2021
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Residential transactions surge by a fifth against pre-pandemic levels in May – ONS
There were 114,940 seasonally adjusted residential transactions in May, a 138 per cent increase compared with the same month last year, according to government figures.


Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows while this is skewed by the closure of the property market last year, compared to 2019 when the sector was operating as normal last month’s transaction levels were still 19.7 per cent higher than the 95,960 recorded two years ago. 

The statistics also showed there were 392,860 non-seasonally adjusted transactions during Q1 of this year, which ONS said was the highest Q1 total since the data was first collated in 2005.  

It was also the highest quarterly total since Q2 2006 when there were 419,270 residential transactions in the UK. 

Although figures for the recent period show the market is busier than previous years, residential transactions in May fell 3.9 per cent compared with April. This represented a difference of 4,600 transactions. 

Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, said: “This morning’s figures indicate demand is still outweighing supply, and the chase for space continues, despite a slight dip in activity. 

“The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported last week that the average house price in the UK dropped by £5,000 in April. This drop could be explained by the expected end of the stamp duty holiday in March, and people submitting lower offers in anticipation. Even so, the average UK house is worth £20,000 more than the same time last year. What we see today is that although this boom is cooling off, it is not yet over. Annual growth remains impressive, and prices could still climb further in 2021.” 

Mike Scott, chief analyst at Yopa, added: “Previous stamp duty deadlines have seen a sharp drop in the number of sales following the surge before the deadline, but the numbers remain very strong despite the record March number of 183,670.  

“We expect another surge in the numbers for June, to beat the revised stamp duty holiday deadline, but we expect that they will then remain strong for the rest of the year, even after stamp duty is fully back in place, thanks to the continuing high levels of demand from buyers who now have no hope of beating the deadline.”   


Stamp duty receipts uptick 

Amid the sustained surge in property transactions, stamp duty receipts totalled £652m in May, £291m higher than the same month last year, figures from HMRC showed.

Compared to 2019 when the sector was operating normally and there was no stamp duty holiday in place, this was a relatively small drop of £179m on the £831m taken.  

On a monthly basis, this was down on the £991m collected in April, coinciding with the dip in overall transactions.

The Treasury has taken £4.2bn in stamp duty so far this year, analysis of HMRC receipts by Coventry Building Society showed.  

Jonathan Stinton, head of intermediary relationships at Coventry Building Society, said: “With HMRC’s revenues still going strong in the wake of the stamp duty holiday, higher value properties, second homes and rental properties are all clearly still a big part of the market.  

“And the so-called ‘pandemic boom’, which has seen house asking prices hit record levels across every region of Great Britain will be having an impact on the taxman’s coffers too.” 

“If the taxman is still getting a healthy pay day from stamp duty even with this holiday, perhaps keeping the threshold high would help to normalise the market and take at least some of the financial burden off of the average homebuyer,” Stinton added. 

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