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Stamp duty break boosts August house sales by 16%

Written by: Shekina Tuahene
House sales increased by 15.6% to 81,280 in August, figures from HMRC show.

Following the announcement of a stamp duty holiday, August’s figures outstripped July’s 14.5% month-on-month growth which was a result of pent-up demand after the housing market reopened.  

Residential transactions are lower than last year, however, as the annual difference was a 16.9% decline. In August last year, 99,890 transactions were completed. 

Furthermore, transactions are still below the 100,000 monthly average that was completed at the start of 2020. 

So far, the number of sales completed for the year-to-date stands at 594,760, 24% down on the same period in 2019. 

Future concerns 

Jamie Johnson, chief executive of FJP Investment, said the transaction data was welcoming news and showed the success of the stamp duty holiday but noted there may be trouble ahead. 

He added: “The findings come at an interesting time. Confidence may be running high, but with the recent spike in Covid cases, the question now is whether the re-introduction of lockdown measures will dampen buyer appetite.  

While there is clear demand for property, a sudden change in circumstances could once again result in buyers temporarily retreating from the market.

“Now could be the right time to consider new policies if the government wants to maintain steady transaction numbers over the coming months, Johnson said.   

Alan Cleary, managing director for mortgages at OneSavings Bank, added: “People on both sides want to make the most of low borrowing costs and the temporary removal of stamp duty which for now at least is helping to bolster the market.  

“However, as we head into the often quieter months of the year, the uncertainty around the UK economy could mean that the strong levels of activity leading up to this point may start to wane.” 

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