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More signs of the housing market heating up as sales hit highest level for two years in January

More signs of the housing market heating up as sales hit highest level for two years in January

  • House transactions were 5.2% higher than in January last year, HMRC said
  • Some 102,810 home sales transactions were recorded last month 
  • But the figures reflect sales agreed in September and October as transaction figures only settle after around three months

House sales rose again in January to hit their highest in two years and half, official figures have showed, in a further sign that the housing market may have indeed seen an upturn even before  December’s general election. 

Some 102,810 home sales transactions were recorded last month, some 4,080 more than in December and 5,120 more than in January last year, according to the latest figures from HMRC. They mark an increase of 4.1 per cent and 5.2 respectively.

January’s estimates are the highest since July 2017, when 103,220 homes where sold. 

However, HMRC pointed out that transaction figures only settle after around three months, which means January’s figures reflect sales agreed in September and October.

Some 102,810 home sales transactions were recorded last month, some 4,080 more than in December and 5,120 more than in January last year

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman said the data confirmed a trend already highlighted by other surveys – that the market picked up even before December’s vote.

‘Transactions are always a better indicator of market activity than more volatile house prices,’ he said.

‘HMRC’s report is the latest in a series of recent surveys telling a familiar story – release of pent-up demand began even before the election, which we’ve noticed in our offices too.’

‘The increase in transaction numbers is particularly striking as they reflect sales which were agreed mainly in September and October. If they are like this now, numbers are set to be even stronger as we approach the peak spring-buying season.’   

The latest official house price figures for December showed a slight revival in the property market before the election, with house prices rising in every region of the UK for the first time in almost two years. 

Meanwhile, recent surveys have suggested that renewed optimism after the election, along with the return of potential buyers who had put moves on hold, has led to the traditional spring house hunting bounce arriving early.

Although fluctuating, house sales have been 'relatively stable' over the past ten years

Although fluctuating, house sales have been ‘relatively stable’ over the past ten years

Estate agents and property listing sites Rightmove and Zoopla have reported an increase in activity after the election, although agents have warned sellers against getting overconfident and hiking prices.  

Mike Scott of estate agency Yopa thinks the rise in sales will translate in higher prices. ‘We expect that this increased demand for housing will lead to house price increases in the first half of this year, as it doesn’t seem to be matched by any significant increase in supply,’ he said.

Although fluctuating, house sales have been ‘relatively stable’ over the past ten years, according to the HMRC.

The data also show an increase in transactions of non-residential properties, like shops and offices. 

Some 11,170 commercial properties were sold in January, up 10.7 per cent higher than in January last year.  

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