The number of houses changing hands in the UK hit an all-time high in June, with 213,120 sales recorded with HMRC.
The wave of activity ahead of changes to stamp duty rules in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was the busiest month since figures were first released in April 2005, during the housing boom that led to the financial crash.
The HMRC said the numbers “captured the important impacts of preventing taxpayer activities,” with buyers offering deals to take advantage of government policy.
The figure, which is not seasonally adjusted and is based on estimates, was over 200,000 for the first time.
Added to the figures for the previous two months, it showed that the first quarter of the new fiscal year was the busiest since the third quarter of 2007, with a total of 428,620 sales recorded.
The introduction of stamp duty holidays across the UK in July last year came as the housing market was already picking up after the initial foreclosure.
In England and Northern Ireland the tax has been removed on the first £ 500,000 of a purchase, while in Scotland and Wales the threshold has been moved to £ 250,000.
An extension of the original March 31 deadline, except in Scotland, meant buyers had until the end of June to take advantage of the full hiatus. In England and Northern Ireland, it will be completely removed at the end of September.
Gatehouse Bank commercial director Paul Stockwell said June’s record was likely to last a long time as it reflected “a perfect demand storm, driven by stuck buyers looking for more space and the introduction of significant tax savings ”.
However, commentators said they did not expect a complete downturn in the market.
Mortgage rates are at record highs, with the UK’s largest construction company, Nationwide, today launching the first five-year fixed rate below 1% deal, and there still appear to be buyers who are looking to move to larger homes.
Iain McKenzie, Managing Director of the Guild of Property Professionals, said: “Much of the increase last month was due to the last-minute race to get the most out of the stamp duty holiday, but the holiday didn’t is not yet completely finished and we could still see a boom in areas with homes priced below £ 250,000. “
He added, “The demand for homes is still outstripping supply by a huge margin, with our member real estate agents seeing some of the lesser available properties per branch in living memory.
“With such a scarcity of housing stock and the continuing decline in stamp duty holidays, there is no sign of slowing prices anytime soon. “
The housing boom was also evident at the top of the property market, with people buying over £ 5million of homes in London in the first half of the year than they have been since 2014.
Data from estate agent Savills showed there were 237 sales worth over £ 5million recorded in the first six months of 2021, 59% more than in the first half of 2020, when sales were depressed by the first foreclosure, and 61% more than the same period in 2019.
The total deal value stood at £ 2.3bn, up 41% from the first half of 2020. This was the highest number and value of deals since the rush to beat the previous stamp duty changes seven years ago.
Domestic buyers and international buyers already living in London led the sales, said Savills, with many looking for larger homes and gardens to take advantage of more space after the closings. Activity has been particularly focused on the £ 5-10million price range, which saw 179 deals, 72% more than 104 sales last year.
Sales above £ 10million were roughly on par with the first half of 2019. Homes of this value are often bought by overseas buyers, who may not have been able to make it to the UK.
“The absence of foreign buyers has held back the recovery of parts of the core London market, notably the higher value central postcodes, where prices remain around 20% below peak,” said Frances Clacy, analyst residential research at Savills.
“Homes have remained the best performing as buyers look to increase their size, but the flat market continues to lag due to international travel restrictions. However, pent-up demand from those who were unable to travel suggests that there will likely be a rebalancing in demand once international buyers can visit the capital again. “