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Property sales in May show yearly dip

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Property sales fell 5.1% to 109,210 in the year to May but remained above pre-pandemic levels.

Seasonally adjusted residential property transactions (which take account of the stamp duty holiday) were 1.3% higher than April 2022.

Figures from HMRC showed there were 96,500 residential transactions in May 2019, with the department saying activity “stabilised but remains somewhat elevated compared to before the coronavirus pandemic”. 

There were 115,070 residential transactions during May last year and at this time, the stamp duty holiday was active. 

‘Gradually expect sales to fall back’

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “There’s still plenty of life left in the property market, but it’s nowhere near as lively as it was at the peak, and it’s not going to perk up much from here.

May saw slightly more sales than April, but slightly fewer than a year earlier. This is a world away from the peaks we saw in June last year, when roughly twice as many homes were sold. Over time, we can gradually expect sales to fall back, because we’re increasingly seeing buyers think twice about getting into the market, and last week’s rate rise isn’t going to help.

We expect sales to tail off as we go through the year, but as May’s figures show, it’s not going to be a steady downwards path just yet. There are still plenty of buyers who have been searching for a property for months, so as sellers slowly shuffle onto the market, these long-term hunters will finally find the property they want. It means this particular period of higher sales may well have a reasonably long tail.”

Richard Pike, sales and marketing director at Phoebus Software, said: “Although the outlook is one of harder times to come we have to be encouraged, in the short-term, that monthly completed transactions are higher now than they were at the same point in 2019. It appears that despite, or because of, the threat of rising interest rates there was plenty of impetus for people to buy or move in the first quarter of this year.   

“Whether that same impetus will remain now that we have seen the first rate rises is debatable.  However, it has to be said for those of us that remember the eye-watering rate of 17% in 1979, current rates are still very low. It all now depends on how many more increases the Bank of England feels will be necessary to bring inflation under control, and how that will translate for mortgage borrower rates later this year.”