House sales in February were around a fifth lower than the same month in 2021, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures.
An estimated 112,240 transactions took place in February across the UK, which was 20.8% lower than in February 2021, HMRC said.
The total was, however, 4.4% higher than in January 2022.
A stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland ended completely from October last year, after being gradually phased out.
Similar holidays had also taken place in Scotland and Wales.
On Monday, property website Rightmove reported that the average price tag on a home in Britain has topped £350,000 for the first time.
Rightmove said average asking prices are more than 10% higher than a year ago and are being stoked by an imbalance between buyer demand and the number of properties available for sale.
Andrew Montlake, managing director of mortgage broker Coreco, said: “Moving forward, there are countless hurdles for households to clear in 2022, primarily rising interest rates and soaring inflation, so that will also apply a degree of downward pressure on transaction levels.
“However, rents are soaring and the desire of people to move out of the rental market will keep transaction levels ticking over.”
Jason Tebb, chief executive officer of property search website OnTheMarket.com, said: “As the weather starts to feel more spring-like, more stock is coming to market but not quickly enough to satisfy pent-up demand from buyers who didn’t make their move last year and remain keen to do so.”
Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “As we are finding in our offices, the momentum which began with the release of pent-up demand after lockdown restrictions relaxed shows little signs of abating and may even be on the rise, thanks to recent welcome additions in stock levels.”
Lawrence Bowles, director of residential research at Savills, said: “While we are still seeing strong momentum in the market, data on agreed sales shows we are also starting to see stratification in sales activity between different price points.
“TwentyCi records show that sales of properties under £200,000 are still well below where they were pre-pandemic, whereas sales for properties worth £300,000 to £500,000 were 47% higher than their pre-pandemic levels, and between £500,000 and £1 million the market saw 73% more sales than before Covid.
“Part of this shift is because there simply aren’t as many homes under £300,000 as before, as we’ve seen values rise over the course of the pandemic.”
Nick Leeming, chairman at Jackson-Stops, said: “Whilst today’s year-on-year figures reflect the absence of the stamp duty holiday incentive, the significant increase from January this year is indicative of a market driven by intent, as the middle to high end of the market continues to press forward with their desire to move home.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.