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Property transactions fell 53% in April

Written by: Emma Lunn
Completed property transactions plummeted to half normal volumes in April as lockdown caused the housing market to almost completely shut down.

Figures from HMRC show that the seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential property transactions in April 2020 was 46,440.

This figure is 53.4% lower than April 2019 and 46.1% lower than March 2020.

Ben Johnston, director of property app Houso, says: “The HMRC numbers, revealing a huge drop in transactions thanks to Covid-19, are thankfully pretty historic. Since lockdown restrictions have eased, we have already seen signs of a housing market emerging from its slumber, with significant traffic to our site and people starting to get back to viewings.

“What is key now is that valuers stick to accepted offer prices pre-coronavirus – if that happens, people will get on and move, working within the new normal of socially distant viewings and moves. We are already seeing a surge of interest in rural homes with good internet and home offices, and we expect this to continue.’

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS chairman, says: “Of course, it is always transactions rather than more volatile prices which are a better measure of housing market strength at this particular time.

“This data comes at a particularly interesting time, just after the Covid-19 bombshell hit, so one of the first to reliably assess the damage. This has been significant with probably worse to come, while new normal values are established. On a more positive note, activity has picked up considerably since we returned to work, at least in part, although it will take several months for interest to build to offers and completions and be reflected in these or similar reports.”

The housing market re-opened last week after effectively being shut from mid-March when the UK went in lockdown.

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