UK house sales jumped by nearly 10% month-on-month in October

Around 105,630 home sales took place in October – marking the highest number of transactions for that month of the year since 2015 – according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Across the UK, sales were up by 8.1% compared with October 2019, as the release of pent-up demand and the current stamp duty holiday had an impact on the market.

Transactions were also nearly 10% (9.8%) higher than in September 2020, HMRC said.

It was the strongest October for house sales since October 2015, when 106,510 sales took place.

It was also the first time sales topped 100,000 in the month of October since 2017, when 100,970 took place.

Around 508,290 house sales took place between April and October this year – the lowest total seen during this period in figures going back to 2011.

Although October saw a bounce back in transactions, house sales plunged by around 50% in April and May 2020 compared with a year earlier.

A temporary stamp duty holiday for home buyers was introduced in England and Northern Ireland in July, with similar measures taking place for the property taxes that apply in Scotland and Wales.

The “nil rate” band for stamp duty was increased to £500,000 from July 8 2020 and this will remain in place through to March 31 2021.

Similar measures were introduced in Scotland and Wales from July 15 2020 and July 27 2020 respectively.

Sam Mitchell, CEO of online estate agent Strike, said: “The Government’s stamp duty holiday has created such a strong pipeline of activity that we believe this pattern could continue right up until the end of March.”

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said its analysis of data suggests sales have eased back from highs over the summer and early autumn.

He added: “However they still remain well above levels seen in the same period last year, particularly in the market over £500,000.”

Andrew Montlake, managing director at mortgage broker Coreco, said: “The pent-up demand caused by lockdown continued to drive property transactions during October.

“The stamp duty holiday introduced in July will also have had an impact on transaction volumes last month.”

He added: “Looking forward, the fate of the property market depends on how the economy copes with the immense strains put on it by the pandemic.”

Anna Clare Harper, CEO of asset manager SPI Capital, said: “In April and May, under strict lockdown, transactions were down by about 50% compared with the same time the previous year.

“Transactions are now being encouraged by the temporary stamp duty reduction, the release of pent-up demand and supply, and the desire to improve surroundings following lockdown.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “Looking forward, we don’t expect too much of a change.

“Many of the buyers who may lose out on the stamp duty discount because they don’t complete in time have already told us they intend to try to renegotiate and share the saving with their sellers.”

Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, said, looking further ahead, “measures must be put in place to prevent transactions falling off a cliff edge”.