Residential transactions totalled 147,050 last month according to HMRC - that’s 23 per cent higher than the previous month and an amazing 48.5 per cent higher than February 2020.
A mixture of the stamp duty holiday and the vaccine roll out have been attributed as the causes.
“It’s always transactions rather than more volatile house prices which provide a more reliable assessment of market strength. Although mostly reflecting transactions agreed several months previously, these figures demonstrate remarkable resilience of buyers and sellers determined to beat the stamp duty deadline” explains Jeremy Leaf, London estate agency owner and former chairman of the residential faculty at RICS.
“'Since then of course the ‘holiday’ has been extended which has given many some breathing space to take advantage with confidence enhanced by acceleration of the vaccination programme and better weather.”
Guy Gittins, chief executive of Chestertons, says: “While there’s no doubt that a lot of people are very keen to move home, many didn’t feel comfortable starting the process until they had some idea of when the country might be out of lockdown. Once this was provided, we noticed an immediate uplift in new buyers registering with us, and the subsequent announcement confirming the extension of the stamp duty holiday only added to this.”
Sam Mitchell, chief executive of online estate agent Strike, adds: “The rush in February amongst buyers and sellers to benefit from the stamp duty holiday will likely be seen all over again three months down the line – but a smoother transition back to normal rates at the end of September will at least help to ease that for some.”
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the HMRC transactions totalled 122,840, 48.3 per cent higher than February 2020 and 26.4 per cent higher than January 2021.