Property transactions rose marginally in March this year, up 0.5 per cent on February’s total according to figures from HM Revenue & Customs.
Even so March's seasonally adjusted figure is a whopping 40.9 per cent lower compared with the same month last year due to the surge in sales ahead of the April 1 2016 stamp duty surcharge deadline.
For March 2017 the number of non-adjusted residential transactions was about 20.9 per cent higher compared with February 2017, however HMRC reiterated in its data that no direct comparison should be made between March 2016 and March 2017.
HMRC says non-tax factors may also have caused market movement, such as the Bank of England's plans to curb buy to let mortgages resulting in a rush to purchase before April 2016 and the then-imminent EU Referendum affecting transactions in the following months. The HMRC’s figures includes properties paying the main and additional rates.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman, says these figures are more directly useful to the industry than those from house price indicates.
"Figures such as those from the HMRC which record actual property transactions are much more relevant than rival indices reflecting price changes because they more accurately depict the health of the housing market rather than simply make people feel better about themselves” he says.
“While the HMRC figures reflect what was happening in the market maybe two or three months ago, nonetheless they show the market was fairly steady at that time and that buyers and sellers are getting on with moving when they can” he adds, saying purchasers and vendors are unlikely to be swayed too much by the current General Election campaign.