HMRC has estimated that the total number of UK residential transactions in December 2020 was 129,400.
This was 31.5% higher than December 2019 and 13.1% higher than the previous month.
Mike Scott, chief analyst at estate agency Yopa, said: “HMRC have published figures for the number of house sales that were completed in December, so we now have the full year figures for 2020. The number of homes sold in the year as a whole was 1.04 million, 11.5% down from the 1.18 million in 2019. This is a good result, since the housing market was effectively closed from late March to mid May, and means that there was a considerable amount of catch-up in the second half of the year.
“This is still in progress, boosted by the impending deadline to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. The (seasonally adjusted) figure for December was almost 130,000 sales; the highest figure for any month of the year, and the highest for any month since March 2016 when there was another stamp duty deadline.
“These figures show that the housing market returned to normal quickly after it was closed during the first lockdown, and wasn’t affected by the second lockdown when estate agents were allowed to stay open and conduct viewings. The number of sales completed in the second half of the year was slightly higher than in the same period of 2019, despite the after-effects of the first lockdown.
“The sales completed in July and August would normally have been those that were agreed between mid March and mid May, when estate agents were closed and viewings were not permitted. Those months were still quite slow, but the last four months of the year more than made up for them. At Yopa we expect that the market will remain very active in the first quarter of this year, with the number of sales peaking in March as buyers rush to beat the stamp duty deadline, and then slow down in the second quarter before recovering to normal levels in the second half of the year.
“Slowdowns after previous stamp duty deadlines have been quite shallow and brief, and we expect the same to happen this time, especially since life will hopefully be returning to normal later in the year and moving house will be easier.”