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HMRC brings agents back down to earth - big drop in transactions

House sales slumped nearly two thirds last month as the main deadline for the stamp duty holiday passed. 

HM Revenue and Customs says 82,110 residential property sales took place in July, which was down an eye-popping 62 per cent on June’s record levels, when there were 213,120 sales, the highest monthly UK total since the introduction of the statistics in 2005.

HMRC says “an expected but noticeable decrease has been observed within provisional July 2021 UK residential transactions statistics”.


The main reason was that buyers in England and Northern Ireland attempted to beat the June 30 stamp duty deadline; since then the holiday has been tapered and will end completely on September 30.

However, despite that huge fall, the July 2021 sales total was a marginal 1.8 per cent up on a year earlier. 

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, says: “These figures for the period just after the withdrawal of the full stamp duty holiday are perhaps better than expected although reflect what we have been seeing, that buyers were still keen to proceed with their purchases, even though they were saving less than they would have done before the end of June.

“The market is definitely calmer now, but many are taking advantage of staycations to keep in touch with market activity, with listings slowly beginning to rise again as prospective sellers return from holiday.”

And Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, comments: “Despite this marked cooling in transaction activity, we are still seeing large numbers of potential buyers contacting us each week, especially for properties in highly desirable suburban, countryside and coastal locations. 

“For sellers in these areas, there is a good opportunity now to capitalise on the fact that the market offers relatively unincumbered access to a deep pool of proceedable buyers with limited competition from other homeowners.” 

Mike Scott, chief analyst at estate agency Yopa, adds: “Given the number of sales that were brought forward, this is a high number and suggests that the dip in the number of sales following the removal of many of the tax savings will be short-lived.

“We expect another very strong month in September, before the new deadline for the remainder of the stamp duty holiday, followed by another short-lived dip.”

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders


  • Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Here we go. The doom mongers and self fulfilling prophecies. The market is normalising, people are on holiday, even agents have taken a break. Don't talk the market in to a crash or it will.

    Bryan Mansell

    The public don't read these articles, so no crash, just, as you say, normalising and August!

    • N W
    • 25 August 2021 09:36 AM

    STEVE. The general public do read these reports.... just spoken to a buyer who has just read it.... their view was "what a complete load of rubbish.... everything still selling, not enough for sale and its still a fight to secure a property, who writes such inaccurate articles...."

    Theodor Cable

    Phew! At last some sense.
    Well said Daniel.

  • London Agent

    The article refers to the figures for July, not August which will be even lower.
    Nothing to do with being a doom monger, it's about reading the market. The SDLT holiday was a huge mistake IMO and pushed prices up in SW London which will now slip back to where they were. The long term outlook remains reasonable for people who can afford to buy.

  • icon

    SD holiday certainly raised the market. Many people would normally be buying later this year and next have already bought.
    Cannot see the market crashing but certainly expect to see a fall in instructions and sales.

  • icon

    More greedy tax = less transactions or house prices drops - HMRC will lose one way or the other.


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