Home sales fell by more than a third in April, figures show

Home sales fell by more than a third in April compared with March, according to HM Revenue and Customs figures.

An estimated 117,860 home sales were recorded in April, marking a 35.7% month-on-month decrease.

In March, 183,170 transactions were provisionally recorded.

A stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland was originally due to end in March, prompting a rush of buyers looking to beat the deadline. However the holiday has now been extended until later this year.

  • April 2021 - 117,860

  • April 2020 - 42,160

A similar property tax holiday in Wales was extended until June 30, though in Scotland the equivalent break ended on March 31.

The figures also show that transactions in April this year were up by nearly 180% compared with April 2020, when just 42,160 home sales took place early on in the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “April’s dip in transactions compared with March is likely to be at least partly due to the anticipated end of the stamp duty holiday, before its extension was announced, which resulted in buyers taking their foot off the gas to get deals done. Now that the holiday has been extended, activity has picked up again.

“Compared with April last year, when the housing market was closed to business thanks to the pandemic, there has been a massive 179.5% jump in transactions. That reflects the grinding to a halt of the market, as well as the surge in demand created by Covid, with more people bringing forward moves to the country and a growing desire for more space, both inside and out.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “Although these figures reflect many sales agreed several months ago, they show a reduction in activity as many buyers did not expect to still take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

“However, activity has picked up strongly since the deadline was extended, allowing many to continue where they left off, as well as encourage new entrants to the market.”

He added: “On the ground, supply is still a problem even though listings have improved as rollout of the second jab in particular is encouraging sellers to make their properties available.”