HMRC property transactions for May

HMRC has just released the property transactions for May.  They can be seen here, and in summary:

Residential Transactions:

  • Seasonally Adjusted: May 2024 saw 91,290 transactions, a 17% increase from May 2023 and a 2% increase from April 2024, marking the fifth consecutive month-on-month rise.
  • Non-Seasonally Adjusted: May 2024 had 91,660 transactions, 24% higher than May 2023 and 18% higher than April 2024, influenced significantly by seasonal trends.

Non-Residential Transactions:

  • Seasonally Adjusted: May 2024 recorded 10,130 transactions, up by 6% from May 2023 and 1% from April 2024.
  • Non-Seasonally Adjusted: May 2024 had 10,110 transactions, a 9% increase from May 2023 but less than 1% lower than April 2024.

Detailed Analysis

Residential Transactions

Trends Over Time:

  • Seasonally Adjusted Transactions (May 2024): 91,290
    • May 2023: 77,910
    • April 2024: 89,160
  • Non-Seasonally Adjusted Transactions (May 2024): 91,660
    • May 2023: 74,030
    • April 2024: 77,710

Historical Comparisons (May 2015 – May 2024):

  • Peak in transactions observed in May 2021 due to temporary tax relief measures.
  • Significant drop in May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Recent provisional figures (May 2024) show a recovery with higher transactions compared to May 2023 but still lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Financial Year-to-Date Comparisons:

  • Non-Seasonally Adjusted (April-May 2024): 169,130
  • Seasonally Adjusted (April-May 2024): 180,450

Non-Residential Transactions

Trends Over Time:

  • Seasonally Adjusted Transactions (May 2024): 10,130
    • May 2023: 9,540
    • April 2024: 10,000
  • Non-Seasonally Adjusted Transactions (May 2024): 10,110
    • May 2023: 9,250
    • April 2024: 10,200

Historical Comparisons (May 2015 – May 2024):

  • Transaction levels have shown moderate growth in recent years.
  • COVID-19 had a notable impact, with May 2020 showing the lowest figures.
  • Provisional May 2024 figures suggest a recovery, approaching pre-pandemic transaction levels.

Financial Year-to-Date Comparisons:

  • Non-Seasonally Adjusted (April-May 2024): 20,270
  • Seasonally Adjusted (April-May 2024): 20,170

Additional Information

Data Sources and Reliability:

  • Statistics are derived from HMRC, Revenue Scotland, and the Welsh Revenue Authority for transactions involving SDLT, LBTT, and LTT.
  • Provisional figures are subject to revision as additional transaction data is reported.

Contextual Considerations:

  • The provisional nature of the latest month’s data necessitates caution in interpretation.
  • Transaction data represents completions, typically lagging behind the market conditions by 2-4 months.

Publication and Revision Schedule:

  • Latest statistics were published on 28 June 2024.
  • Next update is scheduled for 31 July 2024, incorporating June 2024 data.

Conclusion

The provisional data for May 2024 indicates a robust recovery in both residential and non-residential property transactions in the UK. The rise in seasonally adjusted residential transactions for five consecutive months reflects ongoing market resilience, while non-residential transactions show moderate growth. However, given the provisional nature of the data, further updates in the coming months will provide a clearer picture

 

Industry comments:

Amy Reynolds, head of sales at Richmond estate agency Antony Roberts, says: “Although transaction numbers have edged up, this masks regional fluctuations with localised economic factors such as employment growth or new infrastructure projects coming into play. 

 “While property prices have fallen in some areas, it is still very difficult for first-time buyers. With higher borrowing costs, homeownership is out of reach for many, reflected in these fairly flat transaction numbers.

  “While inflation appears to be where the Government wants it, high debt levels and rising interest rates for many will lead to ongoing reduced spend in other areas of the economy. Reducing interest rates may help homeowners with mortgages, but it doesn’t help the rest of the population. We are certainly speaking to more people who are looking to financially downsize to release capital to live on and that is hugely concerning.”

Tomer Aboody, director of specialist lender MT Finance, says: “Transaction numbers are improving, demonstrating a willingness among buyers to commit to a property purchase, and is a positive sign that the market is moving in the right direction.

 “However, to really see a significant improvement in transaction numbers will require some stimulus. It will be interesting to see what the new government plans for the housing market, which needs to be driven forwards because it is so vital to the overall health of the economy.

 “While any increase in transactions is positive, much more could be done. Whichever party wins the election has its work cut out as buyers, sellers and lenders all need reassurance and stability alongside proactive policies.”

Anna Clare Harper, CEO of sustainable investment adviser GreenResi, says: “Transactions are slow, as those who do not need to move are pausing, waiting for a new government and either lower interest rates or an adjustment in house prices. The latter, a house price correction, is unlikely because of the nature of demand, growing need, compared with a worsening shortage of supply.

 “The question everybody is asking is what impact will the election – and its results – have on the property market? Uncertainty in general, and elections specifically, make investors and aspiring homeowners nervous. 

 “However, the truth is that the results of the election are unlikely to make a material difference to house prices. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the fundamentals won’t change: need continues to outstrip supply for housing as a result of population growth.

 “Secondly, while there may be policies that affect a small proportion of homes, both parties offer similar policies focused on short-term confidence, buoyed by house prices.

“For these reasons, any fears of dramatic change following the election are overblown – and the good news for the housing market is that the wait is almost over.”

 

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says: “Several lenders have reduced fixed-rate mortgages for borrowers taking out new deals on the back of cheaper funding rates, which is encouraging and hopefully a sign of better things to come. But until the Bank of England starts cutting interest rates, these reductions are unlikely to become more sustained. 

 “This is more about lenders making sure they are bringing in enough new business without service levels suffering during the quieter summer period when many staff are on holiday, and keeping up with each other, than headline-grabbing summer sales.

 “Borrowers have to get used to paying more for their mortgages; the days of rock-bottom interest rates are long gone. Those coming off a deal will find they must pay more for a new one so it’s important to plan ahead and seek advice.”

 Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman says: “We shouldn’t get too carried away by these figures. Although generally a better indicator of market health than prices, they mainly reflect activity from a few months ago. 

 “The market has been in stop-start mode since the spring as optimism was replaced by a realisation that interest rates weren’t going to come down anytime soon. This was not helped by the election announcement which brought added uncertainty. 

 “Buyers and sellers are taking encouragement from better economic news including lower inflation and the prospect of reduced mortgage payments. They are not making rash decisions to withdraw or strongly renegotiate, just taking their time.”

 

 

 

 

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