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Summer boost for housing market as sales rise in July

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The number of homes changing hands in England and Wales rose 3.2% in July from a month earlier, up 36.7% over the year.

Figures from HM Revenue & Customs showed 104,470 residential property transactions completed in July, with the figure reasonably stable in recent months and above pre-pandemic levels.

In comparison, there were 98,250 transactions in July 2019, some 98,690 in 2018 and 103,480 in 2017. July’s numbers were also the highest since 2015. 

HMRC cautioned the large annual rise could be attributed to “un-seasonally low” activity in July 2021, the result of buyers rushing to complete by the end of June when the stamp duty holiday threshold dropped by half. 

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The market tends to fluctuate and boom in summer, but if you look at overall trends, sales have been gradually falling since the start of the year.” 

She said many of the sales completed in July would have been agreed in March and April, before the full impact of the cost-of-living crisis took hold. 

She added: “The number of properties for sale has fallen again in the months since, and buyers are thinner on the ground too.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ residential market surveys show new buyer numbers have been falling since May, while existing buyers are increasingly sensitive to wider market forces, with more more sales falling through. 

“We don’t expect a straight line downwards, because the property market isn’t full of mathematicians making clever calculations,” said Coles. “It consists of humans with their own individual circumstances and motivations. However, we do expect the market to keep trending downward as we head into the autumn.”