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HMRC has recorded the highest number of transactions for the month of January for three years.

The taxman’s provisional UK property transaction data for January, based on Stamp Duty returns, records 102,810 sales for the first month of the year on a seasonally adjusted basis.

This is up 5.2% annually and the highest level for the month since 102,880 were recorded in January 2017.

The figure is up 12.7% annually on a non-adjusted or ‘actual’ basis to 88,850.

Sales volumes were up annually across all regions, increasing 13.2% in Northern Ireland, 12.3% in Wales and 12.7% in both England and Scotland.

Stamp Duty returns must now be sent to HMRC 14 days after a property sale completes and the taxman takes a snapshot of the data two weeks into a month.

This means that many of these sales will have been completed around the time of the General Election in December, although some may have been through the exchange and completion process before then.

HMRC has warned that its latest figures need to be treated with caution because of the element of estimation.

Commenting on the data, Andy Sommerville, director of conveyancing software provider Search Acumen, said: “The start of the year saw a slight uplift in the property market as the backlog of transactions that were put on hold at the end of 2019 start to be unleashed, given the improved political climate at the very end of last year.

“As the market picks up, we need to look at one of the chief impediments to the transaction process, namely the length and complexity of the conveyancing process.

“Smart solutions and better use of data can help. With the right technology, property lawyers can process more orders faster and with greater accuracy.

“We can’t just hope for better days. We need to capitalise on the technology available now and shake up the sector.”

By MARC SHOFFMAN

Source: Property Industry Eye

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