UK property sales slip ahead of summer

UK property sales slipped in May 2017, according to the latest figures from HMRC, ahead of the traditionally busy summer period.

The provisional seasonally adjusted UK property transaction count for May 2017 was 100,170, down 3.3 per cent from April 2017. The figures mark a 13.4 per cent rise year-on-year, although this is primarily due to the lower-than-usual activity in 2016, following the introduction of the stamp duty surcharge in April.

Nonetheless, Richard Sexton, Director, e.surv, says that there is still confidence in the market.

“Today’s lending market continues to offer competitive products and record low interest rates but these do not answer the fundamental issue which is stopping so many get onto the housing ladder,” he comments. “In order to open up the market, affordable and accessible housing needs to be built to address the housing shortage.”


UK property sales slip in February

23rd June 2017

UK property sales slipped in February 2017, following strong growth in January.

The provisional seasonally adjusted UK property transaction count for February 2017 was 103,910, according to the latest figures from HMRC. This was down 0.7 per cent month-on-month, although January was a strong month that saw sales rise 5 per cent year-on-year. February’s seasonally adjusted figure is 1.9 per cent down on the same month on last year, although February and March 2016 both recorded particularly high levels of activity due to buyers rushing to beat April 2016’s deadline for the new stamp duty surcharge.

Stephen Wasserman, Managing Director of West One Loans, comments: “We should be careful in assuming this blip in property transactions growth is the trend for the rest of the year. Consumers are less confident in bricks and mortar than they were in recent months, as shown by today’s figures, but it’s too early to say whether this will be a long-term trend.

“With Article 50 set to be triggered on 29th March, it’s likely there will be a prolonged period of economic uncertainty that follows, but we are optimistic for the future of the property market. The specialist lending sector, particularly bridging finance, is seeing increased volumes of lending. Investors are attracted to the flexibility of tailored financing in today’s climate but what’s imperative now is that the industry responds by making more diverse financing options available to property purchasers.”

UK property sales rise at start of 2017

24th February 2017

UK property sales got 2017 off to a positive start, with transactions rising almost 5 per cent.

The seasonally adjusted number of residential property sales totalled 104,820 in January, according to HMRC, up 4.9 per cent from December 2016 and 0.3 per cent higher than the same month a year ago.

Stephen Wasserman, Managing Director of West One Loans, comments: “Buyer confidence in bricks and mortar remains positive, as shown by today’s figures. The growth in property transactions is a promising start to the year and, although we’re anticipating some further economic disruptions caused by the political climate at home and abroad, these are encouraging signs. The property financing industry has to keep offering – and indeed offer more – flexible financing options to purchasers. This is imperative if we’re going to keep the market moving and enable property investors to navigate the market successfully in the months and years ahead.”


Steady UK property sales mark stable end to 2016

25th January 2017

Steady property sales in the UK marked a stable end to the housing market in 2016.

“2016 was an unusual year for the housing market,” comments Doug Crawford, CEO of My Home Move. “A huge amount of transactions were brought forward into the first quarter as a result of the changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on second properties. Furthermore, an unexpected result in the EU referendum led many buyers to take a cautious approach.”

“Despite this, transaction levels have remained stable in the second half of the year,” he adds, “which is a testament to the market’s strong fundamentals.”

Indeed, new figures from the HMRC show that the seasonally adjusted estimate of residential property transactions increased by 0.2 per cent between November 2016 and December 2016. The number of non-adjusted residential transactions was about 5.1 per cent higher month-on-month, although the number of non-adjusted residential transactions was 4 per cent lower than in December 2015, while the seasonally adjusted figure was 8.5 per cent lower.

“Looking ahead to 2017, buyers’ confidence is likely to grow as the economic picture becomes more stable, which will lead to an increase in activity,” continues Crawford. “In the long-term, demand for both rented and owner-occupied accommodation will support prices and sales volumes.”


UK property sales continue post-Brexit

25th August 2016

It was business as normal in July for the UK’s housing market, following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, with the industry only seeing a “slight stutter” in sales.

The latest HMRC property transaction figures show that 94,550 residential sales took place in July, a dip of 0.9 per cent from June 2016 and 8.3 per cent down (around 16,000 homes) on July last year.

For July 2016, the number of non-adjusted residential transactions was about 0.7 per cent higher month-on-month,

Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd, says the figures show there is “no cause for alarm”, with the market only seeing “a slight stutter in the property markets post-referendum recovery”.

Indeed, while a short-term slowdown is expected this summer, due to uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote, the market has also been hit by the stamp duty changes made earlier this year, which have left activity largely below the trend set in 2015.

Doug Crawford, CEO of conveyancing firm My Home Move, says the figures reflect their own experiences of the market.

“Following the referendum the vast majority of purchases went ahead without any issue, and chains were largely unaffected. In the medium term the market will remain stable, and our view is that it is strong enough to weather mild economic uncertainty, he comments.

“The minimal fall in transaction numbers between June and July shows that the property market largely shook off the short-term uncertainty of the Brexit vote. Following the referendum there was talk that the market would be quickly affected by the outcome, but these fears have been allayed with residential transactions falling by just 0.9 per cent month on month. While transaction levels remain lower than a year ago, this is in the context of a market that is still feeling the effects of changes to Stamp Duty, which led to a frontloaded first quarter.”

In the long-term, many experts have highlighted the unchanged underlying fundamentals of the UK housing market, with a chronic shortage of supply and demand fuelled by affordable finance, potentially boosted by the recent cut in the base rate by the Bank of England. My Home Move is particularly optimistic about the market’s outlook, predicting the number of property sales will rise by 20 per cent by 2020.

UK housing market still finding its feet

21st June 2016

The UK housing market is still finding its feet after a surge in activity earlier this year.

According to HMRC’s provisional figures, there were 89,700 residential property sales in May 2016, up 1.5 per cent on April but 11.9 per cent lower than the same month last year.

Richard Sexton, director of Chartered Surveyor e.surv, comments: “Too many first-time buyers are struggling to get a foothold on the property ladder as saving for rising deposits is still an almighty challenge. Small-deposit loans in May fell 5.3 per cent to total 11,981 – an unsustainable level if first-timers are to return to the housing market in a big way.

“But low inflation, rising wages and stable base rates are improving finances. And lenders are doing their bit. Competition is bringing down rates and introducing more options. These may not be a lifeline to first-timers scrimping for their first home, but they are a hint that such deals may be on offer to them in the not too distant future.”

UK property sales surge by more than two-thirds

21st April 2016

UK property sales surged by more than two-thirds in March 2016, as the market sprung forward to beat the stamp duty deadline.

HMRC’s provisional, seasonally-adjusted transaction count for residential property hit 165,480 in March, up 41.5 per cent month-on-month and a whopping 69.7 per cent year-on-year.

David Brown, CEO of Marsh & Parsons, comments: “The property market in March experienced a real rush that represented more than simply a Spring surge. Driven by a desire to avoid the 3 per cent stamp duty levy on additional homes, many investors planned ahead by hunting for new properties in January and applying for buy-to-let mortgages at the start of February, before reaping the fruit of their labour in March.

Activity is expected to cool in the coming quarter, as investors step back after bringing deals forward. Demand from buyers, though, is forecast to be fuelled by underlying low mortgage rates.

“A sizeable proportion of March’s activity was driven by homemovers and first-time buyers who are unaffected by the new Treasury levy,” notes Brown. “It will be interesting to see if first-time buyers in particular take advantage of this window by using the Government support available to them to muscle their way onto the ladder and realise their homeowning aspirations.”

Deja vu for UK property, as home sales stall?

25th February 2016
The UK property market could be suffering a case of deja vu, as 2016 starts with political uncertainty in the air and a stall in house sales.

The latest figures from HMRC show that the the provisional seasonally adjusted UK property transaction count for January 2016 was 105,940, down 2.8 per cent from the previous month.

While the figure remains 9.7 per cent higher year-on-year, Marsh & Parsons suggests the monthly dip could be a result of renewed uncertainty surrounding the UK referendum in June and the potential for a Brexit – almost exactly a year after the same pattern occurred ahead of the 2015 general election.

Peter Rollings, CEO of Marsh & Parsons, comments: “Sales activity often cools in times of political uncertainty – and the London housing market usually bears the brunt of it. First and foremost, foreign investors may be more tentative given this latest turn in events, especially as it follows hot on the heels of higher Stamp Duty for million-pound properties.

“But history shows us that the market recovered quickly from this short-term ambiguity in 2015 – and in fact, home sales have really been building momentum over the past year. The property market is chock-a-block with eager buyers, who are being propelled on by cheap mortgage finance and government support schemes. Given the extent of buyer demand, it’s a great time for existing homeowners to be thinking about their next step up the ladder, which should drive further purchase activity. For investors, the change in Stamp Duty for second homeowners in April will be an incentive to make purchases quickly over the next month. It remains to be seen how much of an impact the EU referendum will have on these current levels of confidence but go or stay, London remains an attractive safe haven in times of uncertainty.”

Update: September 2016 – David Brown has now replaced Peter Rollings as CEO of Marsh & Parsons.