Residential property sales in the UK fell by 1.8% between August and September 2017 but were 4.6% higher than the same month in 2016, the latest official figures show.
Experts say that the data published by HMRC shows that lack of supply is one of the major issues behind the slowdown in transactions which has been observed since the start of the year.
Richard Sexton, director of chartered surveyors e.surv, believes that the current shortage of housing supply is behind the slowdown. ‘Transactions have continued in the same pattern that we have seen throughout the year. Although numbers remain level, there hasn’t been exceptional growth,’ he said.
‘In order to answer this, a common goal needs to be agreed by the Government and those within the housing industry to build more affordable housing. The latest announcements by Sajid Javid are a step in the right direction and with the consultation underway, now is the time for mortgage lenders, house builders, developers and the government to work together to create an accessible housing market for all,’ he added.
Home owners are staying put, according to Jeremy Duncombe, director of the Legal & General Mortgage Club. ‘With no real incentive or boost for house building, supply remains subdued and buyer activity remains sluggish. The only way we will see transaction numbers grow is with an injection of activity into the house building sector that has to be led by No 10,’ he said.
Referring to a number of recent announcements to boost housing supply, he added: ‘It’s great that housing is a key issue for this Government, but only time will tell if they can deliver on their promises. Otherwise, intergenerational inequality in the housing market will continue to rise, with Generation Rent struggling to become Generation Buy’.
Buyers should be using the situation to their advantage, according to Owen Woodley, managing director of Post Office Money. ‘Today’s release from HMRC indicates that some consumers are responding to the current economic climate with hesitation. However slipping sales suggest a buyer’s market, where there’s more power to negotiate,’ he explained.
‘Buyers should definitely be using this to their advantage. Although house prices still remain high, by carrying out some research and exploring new locations, buyers might be able to secure themselves a better deal,’ he pointed out.
Stephen Wasserman, managing director of West One Loans, believes it is positive that the figures also show that the sales figures show an increase of almost 5% from the same time last year as this demonstrates an underlying confidence in the market, even at a time of continued economic and political turbulence.
‘It’s been a challenging year, especially considering June’s snap election and last year’s stamp duty increase, but the property market has proven its resilience, and we are cautiously optimistic that this upward trend will continue in the months ahead,’ he said.
‘During such times, however, it’s vital that investors are aware of the array of financing options available. Fast and flexible financing options, such as bridging loans, can speed up the process and enable buyers to capitalise on opportunities in the uncertain environment,’ he added.