An estimated 100,110 transactions took place across the UK last month, marking a 20% decrease compared with 125,190 house sales in December 2020.
The December 2021 total was however 7.6% higher than in November 2021, the data from HMRC shows.
Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, commented: “The figures conclude an interesting year for the housing market, with the typically quieter month of December seeing double digit growth from November 2021. While lower than the transaction heights of earlier in the year, and down considerably from activity in December of the previous year, we’re seeing a market still buoyed by those seeking a better way of life as opposed to being motivated by the financial savings of the stamp duty holiday.”
Nicky Stevenson, managing director at Fine & Country, said: “Sales continued to strengthen at the tail end of last year following a brief respite in the autumn with the unwinding of the chancellor’s stamp duty holiday.
“The month-on-month growth in transactions comes despite the current supply of housing stock remaining at rock bottom levels.
“As new listings come on stream in 2022, there is every expectation that we may see sales volumes running at elevated levels going into the spring..”
Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, commented: “The spectre of rising rates didn’t deter people who were set on moving into their own home before the end of the year.
“While transactions were up in December, the annual change shows that sales are down compared to the tail end of 2020.
“A shortage of properties, coupled with the removal of government incentives to buy, has calmed the ferocious growth of the market.”
Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent, said: “These numbers interestingly demonstrate market strength and resilience, even in the build-up to Christmas and withdrawal of government economic support in September.
“Transactions are always a better measure of property market health than more volatile house prices.
“However, we have moved on since December. Activity and price rises are slowing a little, not least because of the continuing shortage of stock but concerns about rising inflation and mortgage rates is also compromising confidence when it comes to taking on debt.”
Guy Gittins, chief executive of Chestertons, said: “We expect the market to remain buoyant for at least the first quarter of 2022 as London is seeing the return of office workers, international students as well as Londoners who left the capital during the peak of the pandemic but are now seeking a return to the hustle and bustle of the city.”
Andy Sommerville, Director at Search Acumen, remarked: “December’s transactions figures mark a solid end to what was an extremely fast paced and enormously busy 12 months. While transactions in December rose month-on-month, the rate of growth was slower which was expected for the final month of the year as people’s minds turned to Christmas and Covid-19 reared its head again.
“2022 may be a comparatively quieter year in terms of transactions, but there will be no room for property lawyers to grow complacent. While the past two years have shown that predictions are not always easy to make, the headwinds going into 2022 point to a potentially less frenetic property market, but still operating at higher levels compared to the pre-pandemic period.”