Maud Rousseau, group marketing and communications director at SearchFlow, comments on HMRC’s UK Property Transaction Data released today.
“The figures released from HMRC reflect what we have been seeing within our business and from the results of our conveyancers’ sentiment survey.
“HMRC data shows a 1.9% increase in market activity between November 2015 and December 2015, showing a 11.6% increase compared to the same time year.
“The housing market is buoyant and with consumer confidence remaining high and the latest signals from Mark Carney that interest rates will remain on hold until next year, 2016 is set to be another positive year for the industry.
“Looking at activity levels into the Spring months, the conveyancing industry is very likely to see a rush to complete property purchases prior to April, ahead of the introduction of the extra 3% stamp duty charge for additional homes.
“This expectation is reflected in our sentiment survey with 27% of conveyancers believing that transaction levels will increase in the next three months by 10% to 20%. This may be followed by a drop in transaction levels in the following months. However, it is likely to settle later in the year.
“If rents remain high and rental housing stock is still in short supply, buy-to-let will remain a profitable investment for many.
“The Government has clearly outlined its commitment to encourage first time buyers to the market with its pledge of £2 billion for the provision of 400,000 affordable homes by 2020.
“In addition, the Government’s Help to Buy scheme will encourage first time buyers with small deposits to the market. The entry of this important group will be vital to ensure the fluidity of the market as will the supply of new housing.
“There remains a focus to tackle our nation’s housing shortage. Last year, we saw a record level of new homes being built over the past year, with a 25% annual increase, reaching the highest annual increase in a generation.
“This trend is set to continue with the Government’s initiatives to reform the planning process starting to gain momentum on building much needed homes.”