It’s unlikely that this is what George Osborne wanted when he announced his stamp duty surcharge but its deadline for introduction gave the housing market its strongest March sales figures since 2007 according to agencies Your Move and Reeds Rains.
The surge was widespread across England and Wales with a 30 per cent upswing in transactions since February - a trend that goes far beyond any normal seasonality, with second-home and buy-to-let investors rushing to beat the deadline.
The agencies, which monitor the wider housing market, say prices have also reached a new record as a result of the surge with the typical home rising now 6.9 per cent, or £18,745, more expensive than a year earlier. It says no fewer than 73 per cent of local authorities in England and Wales have seen a monthly upswing in home values.
For the first time in a year London has seen the largest house price growth of any region; its typical home is now 8.2 per cent or £44,548 higher than a year ago.
However, the agents claim there is now a two speed housing market, as growth in the rest of the country is easily outpaced by London and the south east.
“Within the capital, the gulf in home prices has moderated. The cost of a typical home in London’s most expensive borough Kensington & Chelsea (£1.9m) remains 6.8 times higher than its cheapest, Barking and Dagenham (£274,000)” says Adrian Gill, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move.
“Bath and north east Somerset has seen the biggest boost of any local authority in England and Wales in March, with the value of homes in the city jumping 5.3 per cent, or £18,603, month-on-month” he says.
The optimism from agents comes as the Bank of England’s Credit Conditions Survey, which monitors the expectation of UK banks and building societies, reports that lending on owner-occupation purchasing is likely to rise sharply in the second quarter of this year, although the reverse is forecast to happen for buy to let mortgages.