Residential property transactions dropped 46.1% between April and March, and 53.4% year-on-year.
The seasonally adjusted provisional estimate of residential property transactions was 46.1% lower in April 2020 than the month before, and 53.4% lower than April 2019, according to research by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The HMRC report also found that, for non-residential property transactions, the provisional seasonally adjusted estimate was 45.2% lower than April 2019, and 22.0% lower than March 2020.
The estimate of UK property transactions in April 2020 was 46,440 residential and 5,930 non-residential.
The provisional non-seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential transactions in April 2020 was approximately 56.7% lower than April 2019.
The provisional non-seasonally adjusted estimate of UK non-residential transactions in April 2020 was approximately 46.8% lower than April 2019.
Nigel Purves, CEO of Wayhome, said:“These figures for April are showing the impact of the lockdown on property transactions taking effect.
"The frozen property market meant movement was minimal and the sector was hit hard.
"However, as the government [is] beginning to ease the lockdown, we're starting to see the housing market very slowly restart.
“‘Reluctant renters’ can now start looking again for a suitable property.
"However, each person’s view of their ideal property may have been re-evaluated during lockdown.
"We've had time to consider what we need from our homes and this may well be different compared to pre-lockdown.
"One thing that won't have changed will be the safety net that comes with homeownership.
“As the market slowly opens for business, we need to see new pathways to homeownership at the forefront of conversations.
"We should be supporting those looking to get on the ladder to find a suitable property that gives them the security they’ve craved during the pandemic.”
John Phillips, national operations director at Just Mortgages, said: “It comes as no surprise to see that property transactions have basically been cut in half since the onset of COVID-19 – down 46% on March’s numbers and more than 50% on this time last year.
"But seeing these figures in black and white really does bring home the scale of the impact.
“In recent weeks we have started to see the sector returning to work and the early evidence is that activity is rapidly rising again.
"Just as with Brexit, people are fed up with having their lives put on hold and now the restrictions on movement are being eased, I believe we will see many people anxious to get on with long-planned house moves.
“As people have got used to remote working, there may even be a boost with more people looking to up sticks and live further away from their usual place of work.
“There is still a long way to go before this crisis is over but I’m confident that we are through the worst.”
Joseph Daniels, founder of Project Etopia, said:“The full extent of the property transaction freeze caused by the coronavirus lockdown is laid bare with these figures, showing a steep 53.4% decline compared to last year.
“While this period has been very difficult for buyers and sellers who have been kept in limbo throughout April and most of May, the loosening of some lockdown restrictions means their sales can once again proceed in earnest.
“The early signs from our own development is that sales underway before the lockdown were simply paused and, thankfully, sales are proceeding again all over the country.
“While it might take a bit more time for sales to pick up as buyers and sellers alike become comfortable with viewing homes under socially distanced conditions, at least the pent up demand from those who were already in the middle of a purchase prior to lockdown can now be released.”