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UK house sales start to improve as lockdown eases

By Abigail Townsend

Date: Tuesday 21 Jul 2020

UK house sales start to improve as lockdown eases

(Sharecast News) - The UK housing market started to pick up speed in June, data collated by HM Revenue & Customs showed on Tuesday, as lockdown measures eased and demand rose.
HMRC said that the seasonally-adjusted provisional estimate of UK property transactions in June was 63,250. That was 35.9% lower than June 2019, but a 31.7% improvement on May 2020.

Non-residential property transactions rose 31.2% on May to reach 7,340 on the same basis, a 27.4% decline on June 2019.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures saw the UK property market grind to a halt, as demand fell, viewings were halted and estate agents closed. As a result, HMRC said the provisional second-quarter residential transaction count was the lowest on record.

In the three months to end June, the total number of UK residential transactions was 153,240, down on the first quarter's revised figure of 291,040 and on the 292,140 recorded in the second quarter of 2019.

Earlier this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak looked to boost the UK's property market and support house prices by upping the nil rate band for residential stamp duty to £500,000 from £125,000, effective until 31 March 2021.

Consumer confidence continues to impacted by fears over job security, however, especially when furlough schemes end in October, and ongoing Brexit uncertainty.

Paul Stockwell, chief commercial officer at Gatehouse Bank, said: "While the transactions figures have not improved significantly since May, the nature of the property market means people have not had enough time to get through the moving process.

"More up-to-date figures from property portals offer encouraging signs. There are suggestions that the stamp duty cut has already boosted buyer demand, and this has helped ensure prices have not crashed in the way many commentators predicted they might."

The HMRC data relates to completions of £40,000 or above, and is based on records held by it, Revenue Scotland and the Welsh Revenue Authority for stamp duty, land and buildings transaction tax, and land transaction tax respectively.

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