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Housing activity cools in January

The number of properties changing hands dampened down in January, government research shows.

There were 121,640 transactions in January 2021, 2.4% less than the month before.

However the transaction count is still 24.1% higher year-on-year.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “Transactions always better reflect market activity than more volatile house prices, even though these are a little historic.

“What they do show is that the market paused for breath in reaction to further restrictions and another lockdown.

“However, renewed home buyer and seller activity in the last few weeks seems to be directly related to the vaccine rollout and potential easing of lockdown.

“Hopefully, the latest cautious lifting of restrictions won’t stall economic recovery and the Chancellor decides to extend the stamp duty holiday at least for those who may miss it through little fault of their own.”

Simon Knight, managing director of specialist lender Lendco, said: ‘It is not surprising that January was another busy month for the housing market, with residential transactions 24.1% higher than the same month last year. The surge in transactions seen in the second half of 2020 continued into this year as buyers desperately tried to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

“There are plenty of buyers committed to getting their transactions across the line before the end of next month, while those who look as though they will miss the deadline are fervently hoping that the Chancellor will announce an extension. All eyes are on next week’s Budget to see what measures Rishi will introduce, whether to boost the housing market or to support the economy more widely.

“The experience of lockdown, combined with rock-bottom mortgage rates, mean those lucky enough to keep their jobs are likely to make that move this year if they didn’t manage it last year.”