Home sales slumped to 15-year low in second quarter of 2020

The number of homes being sold in the second quarter of this year dipped to its lowest level since records started in 2005, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures show.

Across the UK an estimated 153,240 residential property sales took place in the second quarter of 2020, reflecting the freezing impact of coronavirus on the housing market.

This was just over half the 291,040 transactions recorded in the first quarter of this year – and marked the lowest quarterly total in records going back to 2005.

The previous low point came in the first quarter of 2009, in the aftermath of the last financial crisis, when there were 170,840 transactions.

In recent years, quarterly transactions have remained around the 300,000 mark – until the huge slide in the numbers seen over the past few months.

The latest figures also show that around 63,250 transactions took place in June, which was nearly a third (31.7%) higher than in May.

However, this is still more than a third (35.9%) lower than June 2019.

The housing market ground to a near-halt as social distancing measures were introduced earlier this year to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

But since then the housing market has been re-opening, with restrictions in England eased from May 13.

HMRC’s latest figures do not yet capture the impact of a stamp duty cut for England and Wales announced earlier this month by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The figures show completed transactions in the UK with value of £40,000 or above. HMRC said its latest figures are provisional, as they are based on incomplete data.

Jamie Durham, an economist at PwC, said: “The impact of the stamp duty holiday announced by the Chancellor in early July is not included in these statistics. However, major property websites have reported a significant increase in demand and listings over the last few weeks, which may lead to an uptick in transactions over the coming months.

“The housing market recovery is likely to be bumpy. There is still considerable uncertainty in the economy, and while some will take advantage of the cut in stamp duty, others will wait until the outlook is clearer before making major financial decisions.

“The housing market is likely to remain slow as the furlough scheme starts to unwind, and unemployment potentially increases. The end of the Brexit transition period is also on the horizon, which may impact the market depending on the outcome.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said: “We have noticed at street level that many buyers and sellers are bringing forward moving decisions to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday and continuing lower interest rates.

“There is still concern that improved conditions will be relatively short-lived as economic news deteriorates and furlough support falls away.”

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