However, HMRC says the drop from 2021’s figure should be “treated with caution as impacts from forestalling were observed” in the same period last year.
Coreco managing director Andrew Montlake, says: “The stamp duty holiday has distorted the data so it was inevitable that transaction levels in March were down fairly significantly on the same month last year. To make matters worse, t. is an extraordinary lack of stock. Transactions need buyers and sellers and t. is a distinct lack of the latter.”
The provisional non-seasonally adjusted estimate of UK non-residential transactions in March this year is 12,470, representing a decrease of 5.7% on the figures in March last year and an increase of 36.6% compared to February 2022.
The government explains that the decrease is “in line with historic trends, as non-residential transactions often peak in March as financial years end”.
The figures also showed that the provisional seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential transactions last month was 114,650, 35.7% lower than the same period in 2021 and 2.6% higher than the month prior.
Quilter mortgage expert Karen Noye comments: “The seasonally adjusted residential transactions for March, 114,650, remains very high in comparison to pre-pandemic numbers. Over the last 10 years, March transactions were only higher in 2021 and 2016, both of which saw an increase due to forestalling.”
Meanwhile, the provisional seasonally adjusted estimate of UK non-residential transactions in March 2022 was reported at 10,700, 5.1% lower than March last year and 1.2% higher on a monthly basis.
The provisional non-seasonally adjusted total of UK residential transactions during 2021 to 2022 is the highest financial year total since 2007 to 2008.
Noye says: “While the property market has defied expectations so far and property transactions remain high at present, we are likely to see a fall in sales over the coming months. Soaring inflation, the rising cost of living, high energy bills and a lack of support from the government at last month’s Spring Statement mean many people are feeling the squeeze financially.”
“The recent introduction of the new energy price cap and the national insurance increase has further heightened the pressure. With wages failing to keep up, the increased costs of moving home will likely put off prospective buyers and taking a first step onto the property ladder will be pushed out of reach for many, and the number of property transactions could well be driven down as a result,” she adds.
While the cost of living crisis will impact some buyers and may cause others to put plans on pause, Just Mortgages national operations director John Phillips says: “T. is still an imbalance of buyers versus sellers, with more purchasers still tipping the scales and this competition for properties is driving house price growth.”
“With an estimated £95 billion of mortgages up for remortgage in 2022, alongside the purchases, brokers will also be busy supporting clients to remortgage,” Phillips explains.