Residential property sales in April and May 12% lower than in 2015

Residential property sales in April and May 12% lower than in 2015 [Photo: oneinchpunch via iStock]

The number of homes being sold in the UK saw a small rise between April and May, a new report shows, but sales levels were far below what the property market was experiencing just 12 months ago.

According to the official data released by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), there was a rise of some 1.5 per cent in the number of transactions experienced in May when compared to April, as the market recovered from the stalling that took place in the latter of these months when the Stamp Duty surcharge's introduction impacted the number of rental sector investors. 

However, while it was encouraging to see a lift in the number of sales month on month, seasonally adjusted data for April and May shows that it still remains a long way behind last year in terms of residential sales, with 11.9 per cent fewer homes sold in these two months in 2016 than 2015. 

This could be a result of the Stamp Duty surcharge, which meant landlords looking to rush sales through before April to avoid having to pay a three per cent additional levy on top of their normal land tax, as well as the upcoming referendum, which will have seen many would-be buyers adopt a wait and see attitude, common when going through a time of political uncertainty. 

Despite this, the market for 2016 as a whole so far still looks remarkably strong. Even with April and May having brought about very low sales levels, the year to date transaction numbers are still described by HMRC as being "substantially higher" than at the same point last year. 

And the good news is that this looks set to continue on into the second half of the year as well, with experts predicting that even though the referendum has helped to stall sales, when the dust settles, buyers are likely to flock back to the market and allow it to continue posting healthy numbers. 

Rob Weaver, director of investments at property crowdfunding platform Property Partner, said: "Transactions should slowly rebuild as the summer months are historically strong. But the dire shortage of supply is the main reason why we see house prices on a consistently upward trajectory."