The latest figures released by HMRC have revealed that, during August, there were 99,890 residential transactions completed – a 0.9% dip against last year but up 15.8% July 2019 on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Non-seasonally adjusted residential transactions in August 2019 were approximately 0.4% lower than August 2018.
As ever, the property industry was quick to react. Here’s what they’re saying:
Neil Knight, Spicerhaart Part Exchange & Assisted Move business development director said, “The latest figures from HMRC show that residential transactions in August have remained broadly stable year on year, with just a 0.4% drop on a non-seasonally adjusted basis from August 2018. This represents a significant recovery from what was an exceptionally quiet July: overall property transactions increased by nearly one-third (32%) from the previous month.
“Comparing year-to-date totals, the market is still lagging somewhat behind where it was in 2018, with some 30,000 fewer transactions than by this stage last year – possibly reflecting heightened uncertainty around the nature and timing of Brexit.
“What we are seeing at Spicerhaart is much more in line with last month’s more buoyant figures, and consistent with reports from the National House Building Council which painted a more optimistic picture of the market.
“Our Part Exchange and Assisted Move arm is busier than ever, with buyers and housebuilders alike keen to move the process along. We’re clear that there is plenty of demand out there: regardless of political uncertainty people still need and want to move house.”
Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops said, “Brexit and the recent political uncertainty has undoubtedly delayed the market’s seasonal bounce this year. Finally, after months of waiting we’ve seen a healthy uptick in transactions in August. Buyers have had enough of waiting around for the ‘perfect’ time to sell and are now taking advantage of the ‘must move market’.
“For those looking to sell, now represents as good a time as ever to put their home on the market. Stock is still fairly limited, which means there is still strong demand for high-quality homes that are launching to the market at a fair price. Today’s figures support this and are reflected in our branch activity, with many of our agents reporting a spike in both offers and deals agreed.
“However, we must take today’s optimism with caution. Transactions have still decreased by 0.9% year on year and we cannot expect to see a healthy market until the current prohibitive stamp duty charges are resolved. Buyers and sellers alike are eagerly awaiting confirmation from Boris Johnson and his party on how he decides to address this.”
Joshua Elash, director of property lender MT Finance said, “Residential transactional volumes are down year-on-year as the sector continues to suffer from an overly-aggressive stamp duty regime and broader macro-economic uncertainty.
“The market needs a catalyst in the form of either visibility on the Brexit end-game or stimulus in the form of stamp duty reform. This is evidenced by the contrasting increase in volumes in commercial property, which is subject to different stamp duty levies.
“If HMRC wants to generate greater revenues, it needs to encourage greater transactional volumes by reforming or rolling back the stamp duty regime on residential property.”
Josef Wasinski, co-founder of Wayhome said, “For far too many of those hoping to take that first step onto the property market, the path to homeownership remains gloomy.
“In short, hardworking individuals who can’t rely on the Bank of Mum and Dad are forced to choose between continuing to rent or buying something unsuitable.
“People are truly invested in graduating from ‘generation rent’ and benefiting from a more secure future. However, in order to make these dreams a reality, radical change and new alternative routes to homeownership need to be a priority in the market.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients said, “Transaction numbers remained fairly subdued in August on a year-on-year basis, despite HMRC showing a significant fluctuation compared with July. But a steady market is what you would expect for the time of year – with the added spectre of Brexit looming, buyers and sellers didn’t have to look far for an excuse not to do anything but sit on their hands.
“Business has picked up as we have moved into the autumn with people coming back from their holidays more willing to get on with things. Lenders are still competing fiercely for a relatively modest pool of business so rates remain cheap. Borrowers still have lots of choice, even if supermarket banks such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco are pulling out of the lending market.”
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman said, “Once again it is transactions which are a better indicator of market health than more volatile boom and bust house prices. Although it is always dangerous to take one month in isolation, they do show continuing market resilience as buyers and sellers look beyond political uncertainty in the hope that it will now be relatively short lived.
“However, the numbers also demonstrate that transaction times and chains are lengthening, which is what we are seeing on the ground.”