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Property transactions rise 31.7% in June

Property transactions rise 31.7% in June

June saw a 31.7 per cent rise in the number of residential property transactions, according to estimates from HMRC.

The data, released this week (July 21), showed there were 63,250 residential property transactions last month, up from 48,030 in May.

However, the estimate for June 2020 is 35.9 per cent lower than the same month last year, when residential property transactions of at least £40,000 stood at 98,670.

Zena Hanks, partner in the private wealth team at Saffery Champness, said: "While the figures for June are certainly a promising step forward in the recovery of the property market, this may yet be just the foothills of the recovery, as many people who were interested in purchasing a property may have been holding off in anticipation of the much-trailed stamp duty holiday which ultimately came to fruition this month".

In his summer statement this month (July 8) chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed an immediate increase in the residential stamp duty threshold from £125,000 to £500,000 until March 31, 2021.

Scotland and Wales have followed suit, by temporarily raising the threshold to £250,000 before tax will apply on residential property transactions.

Ms Hanks added: "While the stamp duty holiday is certainly a bold move by the chancellor, it might be unwise to pin all our hopes on this as the decisive factor to get the property market firing on all cylinders.

"There have been reports that some sellers are raising the asking price for properties in line with the stamp duty savings, which means that the options on the table for buyers may be largely the same as before, and many younger people who are by and large the most excluded from the property market would have benefited from first time buyers relief anyway.”

According to Rightmove, the average asking price of properties coming to market in July was up 2.4 per cent (£7,640) on March pre-lockdown, and the annual rate of increase at 3.7 per cent was the highest since December 2016.

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “We are still below last year's numbers... but confidence is creeping back up.

"If the government increases capital gains tax on principal home sales, it will push us back again so any progress made by the stamp duty reduction will be swiftly lost. We need more stimulus via reduced stamp duty to the upper end of the market and hope for this in the autumn Budget."

Mr Aboody added: “For now, confidence and transaction numbers are increasing, demonstrating a welcome positivity which we have not seen for some time”.

Last week the chancellor commissioned a review of capital gains tax in relation to individuals and smaller businesses, asking the Office of Tax Simplification to consider the overall scope of the tax and the rates which apply.

The review will also look at the reliefs, exemptions and allowances, including those applying to the sale of homes.

chloe.cheung@ft.com