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House sales jump by two-thirds as stamp duty deadline looms

·3-min read

House sales surged by more than two-thirds in September as buyers rushed to make stamp duty savings.

Across the UK, an estimated 160,950 homes changed hands, which was 67.5% higher than in August, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said.

The September total was also 68.4% higher than in September 2020.

HMRC said the figures had “have captured significant impacts from expected forestalling activity in England and Northern Ireland”.

A stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland was tapered from the start of July and then ended completely from the start of October this year.

Property professionals have previously reported seeing a rush of home buyers looking to complete deals in order to make stamp duty savings.

HMRC explained: “Forestalling is when advanced action is taken to prevent an anticipated event.

“For these statistics, forestalling refers to taxpayers completing property transactions earlier to take advantage of Government policies. In this case, the ending of the temporarily increased nil rate band for residential stamp duty land tax from September 30 2021.”

In the financial year so far (April to September), an estimated 765,570 house sales have taken place – marking the highest total for this period seen in the past decade, with the figures having captured the impacts from temporarily increased “nil rate” stamp duty bands.

House sales plunged by about 50% annually in April and May 2020 due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the run-up to March 2020, sales had been following “a seasonal but stable trend, with higher transactions during summer and autumn months and lower transactions during the remaining months”, the report said.

HMRC cautioned that the latest figures are provisional as not all returns from completed sales will have been received.

Sam Mitchell, CEO of online estate agent Strike, said: “Property transactions jumped yet again in September as the market enjoyed one final stamp duty holiday hurrah.”

Lawrence Bowles, senior research analyst at Savills said: “Even though stamp duty holiday support has tapered down, it’s still encouraged many buyers to complete last month to save up to £2,500.

“But there’s more to this activity than a stamp duty holiday: record-low mortgage rates, desire for more space, and a core of unmet pent up demand all continue to push up transaction volumes.”

Anna Clare Harper, CEO of property consultancy SPI Capital, said: “Investors, homeowners, solicitors and banks pushed hard to get transactions done before the end of September, so that buyers could make the most of the final stage of the temporary stamp duty relief.”

Chestertons CEO, Guy Gittins, said: “Our current levels of new applicants and viewings are tracking approximately 30% above the three-year average for September. This underpins our view that the buoyant sales market will be with us until at the very least first half of next year.”

Mike Scott, chief analyst at Yopa, said: “The numbers of completed sales for September in Scotland and Wales were still strong compared with recent years even though the final deadlines for tax savings occurred at the end of March in Scotland and at the end of June in Wales.

“We anticipate that England and Northern Ireland will follow the same pattern, with activity remaining high and prices continuing to rise despite the end of the stamp duty holiday.”

Peter Beaumont, CEO of The Mortgage Lender said: “With the furlough scheme ending last month, October could see some of the steam come out of the market. Coupled with the anticipation that the Bank of England may raise interest rates before the end of the year, it could soon be a less attractive time for buyers to get on the housing ladder.”

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