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Residential property transactions muted in March – HMRC

  • 30/04/2024
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Residential property transactions muted in March – HMRC
Residential property transactions reached an estimated 84,200 in March, 6% down on the same month last year but 1% higher than the previous month.

HMRC data showed this small rise marked the third consecutive month that residential property transactions increased on a seasonally adjusted basis. 

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, residential property transactions in the UK totalled 86,980, which was 9% lower than March last year and 20% up on February this year. 


A slow road to recovery 

Andrew Lloyd, managing director at Search Acumen, said activity indicated “cautious optimism” heading into summer, and while the uplift in transactions was “modest”, “the upward trajectory for the second consecutive month signals that the market is slowly regaining its footing after a turbulent 2023”. 

He added: “On the residential front, the marginal increase aligns with our cautious expectations of a gradual recovery. As economic conditions stabilise and the traditional spring market defrosts from hibernation, more prospective buyers are feeling ready to take the plunge into homeownership, reflected in Zoopla’s latest report showing a 12% annual increase in sales agreed.” 

Clare Beardmore, director of distribution and mortgage club at Legal and General Mortgage Services, said: “We have definitely seen the mortgage market move up a gear in 2024, after a slightly slower 2023. Gross lending and product transfer activity are holding strong, and it’s also been fantastic to see first-time buyers leading the charge, with lending to this group doubling year-on-year in February compared to the same month last year. 

“Whether you are ready to begin your homebuying journey, coming up for remortgage, or considering a property purchase in the future, seeking support from a mortgage adviser is a really sensible first step. An adviser will have access to the skills, tools, and products to help you navigate the complexities of the current market and find the best solution, no matter your circumstances.” 

Mark Harris, chief executive of SPF Private Clients, said: “Transaction numbers have picked up again month-on-month, although they are down compared with last year. 

“Swap rates, which underpin the pricing of fixed rate mortgages, have been rising for a while, but it is only in the past week or so that lenders have been raising their rates accordingly. This is unwelcome news in particular for those borrowers who have held off committing to a product in the hope that rates would have come down further by now, with many being caught out.

Nicky Stevenson, managing director at national estate agent group Fine and Country, added: “Uncertainty around interest rates is creating a sense of the limbo in the property market, with many would-be movers and buyers adopting a wait-and-see approach.”


Annual transactions at 11-year low 

HMRC said that, on a seasonally adjusted basis, residential transactions fell 17% from 1.2 million in the financial year 2022/23 to 999,460 in the financial year 2023/24. 

It said this was the lowest level of seasonally adjusted residential transactions since the financial year 2012/13. 

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