11 per cent more house sales than same period last year


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House sales were 11 per cent higher in the first half of this year than they were in the first six months of 2011, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) figures have shown.

The number of completed property sales increased by 7,000 month-on-month in June to reach 83,000, following a dip seen earlier this year after a stamp duty concession for first-time buyers ended in March.

The latest figure brought the total number of sales across the UK to 431,000, an 11 per cent increase on the first half of 2011.

However, lending is expected to remain challenging this year, with the British Bankers' Association (BBA) releasing figures yesterday showing that mortgage approvals hit their lowest level in at least 15 years in June, in a sign of what is to come.

Analysts said the low approvals figures could have the effect of pushing down house prices if there are fewer potential buyers around.

Mortgage lenders have increased competition to attract customers in recent weeks by announcing new deals, but much of this has been targeted at people with larger deposits, often of 40 per cent.

Would-be buyers with smaller deposits are expected to have a particularly tougher time finding a deal in the coming months as lenders tighten their borrowing criteria amid the UK's longest double-dip recession since quarterly records began in 1955.

The ending of the stamp duty concession for first-time buyers was one factor behind the sales boost seen earlier this year.

Lenders and estate agents said sales which could have otherwise taken place later this year were bunched up, as people rushed to beat the deadline.