The number of property transactions in England and Wales slipped to their lowest in five months in January, according to the latest statistics released yesterday.
HM Revenue and Customs said deals fell to 133,000 in J anuary in seasonallyadjusted terms from 154,000 in December, revised from an originally reported 153,000.
However that is in line with surveys suggesting the housing market is showing signs of recovery.
The figure compared with 103,000 in January 2005. It is still way off the 155,000 of January 2004 when Britain was still enjoying a boom.
The number of transactions last month was the lowest level since August 2005 when the Bank of England cut interest rates to 4.5 per cent, a move that many analysts said gave a boost to the housing market at the end of last year.
Property transactions data are widely viewed as a lagging indicator of the housing market as they reflect residential stamp duty payments on purchase completion.
But economists look at the data to assess trends in spending on household appliances and furniture that people tend to buy for a new home.