2015 saw slight rise in transactions according to HMRC

2015 saw just over 12,500 more residential property transactions compared with 2014, which represents growth of just over 1%.

In total, the number of non-residential transactions over £40,000 was 1,231,260 according to HMRC’s latest statistics. In 2014, the total number of transactions was 1,218,750.

December 2015 saw 11.6% more transactions than December 2014. However some commentators believe we may see the reverse of 2015’s slow start and strong finish, with stamp duty changes having a cooling effect on the market after April.

Peter Rollings, CEO of Marsh & Parsons said: “By the end of 2015, housing market activity was singing from a completely different hymn sheet than it was at the beginning of the year.

“After a cautious start, there was a clear key change in sales levels after the conclusion of the general election, and the year closed on a high note – and defied the usual seasonal slowdown – with December experiencing the largest volume of property sales of any month in 2015, as buyers rushed to complete transactions before Christmas.

“This steady build-up of activity and buyer confidence is even more impressive when you consider some of the adverse changes the housing market has had to stomach over the past twelve months.

“While the shakeup of stamp duty was indeed a welcome tonic for many first-time buyers and those purchasing property at the lower bands, it has been harder to digest at the middle and top-end, where the increased levy is particularly onerous.

“With an additional 3% of stamp duty coming into effect for second homeowners in April, 2016 may well see an opposite trend – and a growth spurt in the early stages of this year that could then taper off in the short-term while the market retunes.”

Maud Rousseau, Group Marketing and Communications Director at SearchFlow said: “The figures released from HMRC reflect what we have been seeing within our business and from the results of our conveyancers’ sentiment survey. HMRC data shows a 1.9% increase in market activity between November 2015 and December 2015, showing a 11.6% increase compared to the same time year.

“The housing market is buoyant and with consumer confidence remaining high and the latest signals from Mark Carney that interest rates will remain on hold until next year, 2016 is set to be another positive year for the industry.

“Looking at activity levels into the spring months, the conveyancing industry is very likely to see a rush to complete property purchases prior to April, ahead of the introduction of the extra 3% stamp duty charge for additional homes. This expectation is reflected in our sentiment survey with 27% of conveyancers believing that transaction levels will increase in the next three months by 10% to 20%.

“This may be followed by a drop in transaction levels in the following months. However, it is likely to settle later in the year. If rents remain high and rental housing stock is still in short supply, buy-to-let will remain a profitable investment for many.”

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