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House sales fall in July as stamp duty holiday ends

The number of house and flat sales fell by nearly two-thirds last month after buyers accelerated their purchases in June to beat the end of the full stamp duty holiday, official figures showed.

The provisional seasonally adjusted estimate of residential transactions in July was 73,740, or 62.8 per cent lower than in June when it jumped to 198,400, Revenue & Customs said yesterday.

July’s data showing a provisional non-seasonally adjusted estimate of 82,110 residential property sales was below the monthly average of 145,000 of the first six months of the year.

It compares with a frantic June, when HMRC reported the highest monthly UK total since the introduction of the statistics in April 2005 and more than double that of a year earlier.

In England and Northern Ireland, buyers raced to complete purchases before the temporarily increased “nil rate” band to £500,000 for residential stamp duty land tax ended on June 30. This relief has since been tapered to £250,000 and the nil rate band will revert back to £125,000 on September 30.

Despite the drop-off in sales activity last month, the HMRC data showed purchases were 1.8 per cent higher than in July last year, when activity was still hit by the near-total housing market closure from March until mid-May.

Property market experts said that while activity has passed its peak, demand remains strong as the pandemic and home-working continues.

This month the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reported that inquiries started shrinking in July, bringing to an end a four-month positive run, while Nationwide’s house price index showed values dropping back by 0.5 per cent in the first such fall since March.

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