Following the HMRC figures this morning, Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, says “If ever there was a case for ‘looking at the bigger picture’ this is it. On the face of it the non-seasonally adjusted figures for residential transactions paint a picture of a fairly healthy but declining market. Good news in some respects but, and there is a big ‘but’ here, things are turning. The news from government yesterday on our phased easing out of lockdown was encouraging, but we are not out of the woods yet.

“The pandemic has not abated the desire for many to move house. In fact, the restrictions imposed by lockdown have in many ways fuelled the market, as people look for homes more suited to home-working and with outside space. The SDLT holiday has of course played a part in keeping the market moving, and no doubt many will see it as a success. However, time will tell how successful the scheme has been in the long run. Even with a phased end, mooted by some, the outcome may well be a fall in house prices and a stagnation in the market.

“Mind you, there is also a flip-side to this and, with restrictions lifting (along with the country’s spirit), we may all be surprised with a continued appetite to move, despite economic pressures. The ONS reported today that unemployment rose again, not really a surprise to anyone but, with the budget just over a week away, we will all be looking to the Chancellor to see exactly how his ‘Plan for Jobs’ will work, and what effect it may have for our industry in the longer term.”