March property sales edged previous month, HMRC reveals

Residential property transactions edged up 1% in March 2023 compared to the previous month, the latest HMRC figures have revealed.

Across the UK, there were 89,560 home sales last month, according to the provisional seasonally adjusted estimate. While this was slightly higher than February’s total, it represents a 19% decline on the figure for the corresponding period of the previous year.

The monthly rise broke a run of drops, however, including a 4% dip between January and February and a 3% drop from December to January.

According to HMRC’s  non-seasonally adjusted estimate, meanwhile, there were 94,870 transactions in March, which was 26% higher than February and 14 % down year-on-year. 

Commenting on the figures, Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: “The steep drop in property sales that followed the shock of the mini-budget has bottomed out. The mortgage market has stabilised and buyers increasingly accept they are in a new lending landscape after 14 years of ultra-low rates. 

“Buoyed by savings accumulated during the pandemic, record levels of housing equity and a strong jobs market, activity has been solid but not spectacular this year at all price points. 

The further we get from the mini-budget, the stronger the market is performing.”

Danny Belton, head of lender relationships at Legal & General Mortgage Club, said the uptick in transactions from February to March was “positive… kickstarting a strong spring selling season”.

He added: “This is supported by a growing number of mortgage products coming to market – surpassing 4,000 earlier this year, according to Moneyfacts – and the growing competition from lenders is only making them more affordable.”

However, according to Phil Tennant, COO of Upstix, the monthly 1% rise in transactions isn’t representative of a “wider picture that demand has dropped dramatically by almost a fifth over the last year”

He added: “Our experience has shown that when differentiating by property type, the picture is even starker. 

“Those trying to sell apartments and smaller homes are seeing very low demand as those on the bottom end of the market, and in particularly first-time buyers, feel the impact of worsening affordability due to higher mortgage rates and the recent end of Help to Buy.”


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