Figures from HMRC showed that there were 96,500 residential transactions in May 2019, with the department saying activity “stabilised but remains somewhat elevated compared to before the coronavirus pandemic”.
There were 115,070 residential transactions during May last year and at this time, the stamp duty holiday was active.
Mark Harris, chief executive of SPF Private Clients, said: “There are still signs of strong activity in the market even though some of the heat has come out of it, and mortgage brokers remain exceptionally busy.
“Yet another in a string of rate rises from the Bank of England is certainly focusing the minds of borrowers, keen to secure a fixed rate mortgage before pricing edges higher.”
Compared to April 2022, residential transactions in May were up by 1.3 per cent.
Property market not stifled yet
Karen Noye, mortgage spokesperson at Quilter, said: “UK monthly property transactions have continued to slow in comparison to the pace witnessed last year, but for now they remain higher than pre-pandemic levels and May even saw a slight uptick compared to April’s figures. While the cost of living crisis has now heavily set in, it is still yet to completely stifle the property market.
“While transactions are still higher than pre-pandemic levels, we are slowly returning to some semblance of normality as while we have seen mildly higher numbers in 2022, the number of transactions has breached 100,000 on multiple occasions in the last decade.”
She added: “Ultimately, the high costs and ever-increasing squeeze on our everyday finances will likely see the number of property transactions driven down in the coming months, and we may finally begin to see a slowdown in the property market and a subsequent dip in house prices as a result.”
Richard Pike, sales and marketing director at Phoebus Software, said: “Although the outlook is one of harder times to come we have to be encouraged, in the short-term, that monthly completed transactions are higher now than they were at the same point in 2019. It appears that despite, or because of, the threat of rising interest rates there was plenty of impetus for people to buy or move in the first quarter of this year.
“Whether that same impetus will remain now that we have seen the first rate rises is debatable. However, it has to be said for those of us that remember the eye-watering rate of 17 percent in 1979, current rates are still very low. It all now depends on how many more increases the Bank of England feels will be necessary to bring inflation under control, and how that will translate for mortgage borrower rates later this year.”