The latest figures released from HMRC have been welcomed by the property industry, calling them ‘encouraging’ and ‘good news’, as the country counts down to Brexit at the end of the month.
According to the data, residential property transactions during September saw a rise on the previous month’s figures, and grew steadily in comparison with September 2018.
The provisional seasonally adjusted count of residential property transactions in September 2019 is 2.3% higher than September 2018 , and 5.0% higher than August 2019 – with 101,740 residential transactions in September this year.
As ever, the property industry was quick to react. Here’s what they’re saying:
Neil Knight, business development director at Spicerhaart Part-Exchange and Assisted Move, said: “The latest HMRC transactions figures are really encouraging. Although there is a slight fall from August, this is to be expected as activity tends to drop off during the summer, resulting in fewer completions in September.
On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the numbers are up by 5 per cent month-on-month, and the raw numbers are up more than 6 per cent from the same time last year. If you take into account the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit – and there’s just a glimmer of light at the end of that particular tunnel – this paints a pretty rosy picture. We’re certainly continuing to see strong demand at Spicerhaart and I’m hopeful that if MPs can now get Brexit sorted, we will see a lot more confidence return to the market.
We’re also looking to the Chancellor to make some changes to Stamp Duty, which is having a very damaging effect on people looking to move home.”
Shepherd Ncube, Founder and CEO of Springbok Properties, had this to say: “A seasonally inspired spike in transactions will be welcomed across an otherwise weary market landscape and while uncertainty continues to dominate the property sector, this late rally in the number of homes being sold proves there is plenty of life in the old dog yet.
There remains a huge appetite for homeownership across the UK and while transactions may have plateaued in recent years they have remained consistently stable, with pent up demand from homebuyers occasionally giving way in the form of a monthly spike in sales.
This will continue to be the case until we finally receive some degree of certainty on our future with the EU, at which point the floodgates of buyer demand should open and see transactions increase once again. Until that point, slow and steady is certainly the theme across the UK property market and while nothing spectacular will materialise on a short term basis, we remain in a good position.”
Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, says: “An increase in transactions is always good news but it is only marginal as we sit, wait and hope, that something will move Brexit along, bringing some positivity into what is a suppressed and subdued housing market.
The uplift in transactions compared with last year is encouraging, although you would expect an increase from August as people come back to work after their summer holidays and get on with things. We would have expected a bigger increase in transactions in September but then the protracted negotiations over Brexit have put paid to that.
Ultimately, people have to move at some point, for whatever reason. The reality is that as those at the top end of the transactional flow are holding fire, the trickle-down stimulus is removed and others aren’t able to move up the chain. Everyone is impacted.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says: “The housing market is ticking along with an uplift in transactions compared with August and last September. HMRC warns against getting carried away in that there is an element of estimation in those numbers but that aside they do suggest that the bottom hasn’t fallen out of the housing market.
People are getting on with their lives despite Brexit uncertainty. Lenders remain keen to lend and continue to tweak rates downwards in order to attract the limited number of committed buyers out there. There is no sign of this situation changing any time soon but hopefully resolution on Brexit will give some clarity and welcome impetus to the market.’
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “As usual, it is transactions rather than the more volatile house prices which are a much more reliable indicator of market health. Although these figures are estimated, a positive interpretation is always better than a negative and these show once again the relative resilience of buyers and sellers and enthusiasm for the more serious to get on with moving, despite the various political distractions going on around them.
Looking forward, we don’t anticipate too much change and certainly no fireworks in the next month or so even if a Brexit deal can be negotiated, although there is inevitably some element of pent-up demand as many await the outcome.”
Josef Wasinski, co-founder of Wayhome, said: “Whilst these figures indicate positive movement on the property market, the reality is that significant numbers of people, on good salaries, cannot surmount the upfront costs that go along with homeownership.
With mortgage lenders requiring deposits of more than 10 percent in many cases, owning a property is getting further out of reach for perfectly creditworthy ‘reluctant renters’ unless they make compromises on size, location or transport links.
This homeownership gap can only be addressed through a concerted effort from both Government and those focusing on helping First Time Buyers so people have a viable, alternative route onto the property ladder.”