House sales jump by 40%

The number of homes sold in Britain leapt by 40% in March compared to the previous month, according to a new study.

Statistics from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reveal that there were 60,000 property sales worth at least £40,000 each, a 40% jump from 43,000 in February.

The positive figures are uplifting in more than one way. They could suggest that the slump in home sales over the past 18 months could be coming to a halt. Even when the figures are adjusted for season trends, they still show a rise from 54,000 to 61,000, a boost of 13%.

The information is on a par with other figures from the Bank of England that show that mortgage approvals rose considerably in February after stagnating for six months. Surveyors also report a steady climb in the number of enquiries at estate agencies from wannabe homebuyers during the last five months.

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But although such figures are encouraging, mortgage lenders warn that a strong revival in the market was unlikely in the near future. Typically, there is a leap in home sales at this time of year, because the property market traditionally comes back to life in the spring.

This welcome rise might not be sustained as the banking crisis, falling prices and a shortage of mortgage funds still are having a dampening effect on the market.

‘The report confirms the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ stance that there has been a modest pickup in market activity recently, but that it remains at an extremely low level,’ says a spokesman from the CML. ‘Despite this small improvement, the CML does not foresee a lasting, significant increase in lending volumes until funding conditions improve,’ the CML adds.

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