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Residential property sales jump up to hit a three-year high for January

HMRC has recorded the highest number of transactions for the month of January for three years.

The taxman’s provisional UK property transaction data for January, based on Stamp Duty returns, records 102,810 sales for the first month of the year on a seasonally adjusted basis.

This is up 5.2% annually and the highest level for the month since 102,880 were recorded in January 2017.

The figure is up 12.7% annually on a non-adjusted or ‘actual’ basis to 88,850.

Sales volumes were up annually across all regions, increasing 13.2% in Northern Ireland, 12.3% in Wales and 12.7% in both England and Scotland.

Stamp Duty returns must now be sent to HMRC 14 days after a property sale completes and the taxman takes a snapshot of the data two weeks into a month.

This means that many of these sales will have been completed around the time of the General Election in December, although some may have been through the exchange and completion process before then.

HMRC has warned that its latest figures need to be treated with caution because of the element of estimation.

Commenting on the data, Andy Sommerville, director of conveyancing software provider Search Acumen, said: “The start of the year saw a slight uplift in the property market as the backlog of transactions that were put on hold at the end of 2019 start to be unleashed, given the improved political climate at the very end of last year.

“As the market picks up, we need to look at one of the chief impediments to the transaction process, namely the length and complexity of the conveyancing process.

“Smart solutions and better use of data can help. With the right technology, property lawyers can process more orders faster and with greater accuracy.

“We can’t just hope for better days. We need to capitalise on the technology available now and shake up the sector.”


Source: Property Industry Eye

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Number of property transactions decrease

Property transactions decreased for both residential and non-residential in July, according to the latest statistics from HMRC.

The UK property transactions statistics report shows that non-residential and residential property transactions saw a 5.8% and 12.4% year-on-year decrease respectively.

The provisional seasonally adjusted UK property transaction count for July was 86,630 residential and 9,760 non-residential transactions.

Declining transactions began at the end of 2007 after the financial crisis, prior to this transaction counts had risen steadily reaching its peak in mid-2006.

Kevin Roberts, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “Our research shows only one in ten borrowers plan to delay buying or selling as a result of Brexit, so it’s clear there are other barriers preventing a boost to transaction levels.

“While government schemes have helped thousands of first-time buyers onto the property ladder – we need to think about those further up the ladder too.

“To stimulate the market, the government needs to build more housing across all types of tenure.

“This will provide second steppers and last-time buyers with more choice and in turn, families can up or down-size accordingly.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, added: ’HRMC reveals a further slip-sliding of transactions compared with the same period last year as buyers and sellers continue to put big decisions like moving house on hold.

“For those who are brave enough to take the plunge, or who have simply had enough and want to get on with it, mortgages remain incredibly cheap.

“With fewer transactions happening, lenders are having to compete harder for business. With the exception of 10-year money, Swap rates have ticked up with three, five and 10-year swaps now cheaper than their two-year equivalents.

“Compared to where swaps were three months ago, lenders have been able to reduce their rates, and to some extent, maintain or make better returns.’

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, commented: ’While HMRC is reporting nothing as dramatic as transactions falling off a cliff, the picture for the housing market is not that rosy either.

“However, one would expect a seasonal lull – it will be interesting to see where these numbers are at the back end of October and whether we get the bounce back that you would expect at that time of year.

“It is not all doom and gloom: as a lender we are reasonably busy – getting enquiries in and money out of the door, which are two barometers as to whether things are going ok.

“What is interesting is the spike in commercial property transactions, suggesting investors are diversifying into other areas.

“There isn’t enough detail here about what these transactions are but more activity is encouraging none the less.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Property transactions dip in April

The number of residential property transactions in April fell on a monthly basis but were up from the same month a year ago, data shows.

Year-on-year, the seasonally adjusted number of property sales rose by 0.8% from 98,620 in April 2018.

Non-residential property transactions

The number of non-residential property sales in April was up on both a monthly and yearly basis.

Year-on-year, transactions rose by 7.1% last year to 11,300 from 10,550 in April 2018.

On a monthly basis, these sales saw a rise of 9.5% from March 2019 where they stood at 10,320.

Investors’ confidence brings transactions up

Joshua Elash, director of property lender MT Finance, said that it comes as no surprise to see transactional volumes in the residential space falling month-on-month.

“We expect this trend to continue while uncertainty over Brexit specifically impacts the end-user market and overly aggressive tax treatment continues to dampen investor activity and appetite.

“However, it’s a tale of two cities as investors turn instead toward commercial property where yields remain attractive and less oppressive tax policies support and encourage investment. Whatever the Brexit debate, investors are buying into commercial property and it is great to see confidence in this sector translating into transactional growth.”

Adrian Moloney, sales director at OneSavings Bank, said: “With house price growth stalling and in some areas falling, and take home pay packets increasing, there are tentative signs that some prospective buyers are taking the opportunity to purchase their first home.

“Nonetheless, caution has not been entirely cast aside as we are unlikely to see any significant activity without more housing stock and some closure to the political and economic uncertainty which is still in the back of many buyers’ minds.”

Written by: Antonia Di Lorenzo

Source: Your Money

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April property transactions remain stagnant

Residential property transactions remained stagnant in April but increased slightly on last year’s figures, latest official data has shown.

In its UK property transactions statistics report released today (May 21), HM Revenue & Customs estimated 99,420 residential and 11,300 non-residential transactions were made in April.

April’s seasonally adjusted residential figure saw a slight drop on the previous month — 0.3 per cent — but increased by 0.8 per cent on the same month the previous year.

The findings reflect last week’s (May 16) figures from UK Finance, which showed the number of consumers borrowing to buy a new property in March was down across first-time buyers, home-movers and buy-to-let purchases when compared with last year.

According to today’s report, non-residential transactions were up on March’s figure by 9.5 per cent and increased by 7.1 per cent compared to last year.

Kevin Roberts, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club, said the figures showed that despite government schemes and greater innovation in the mortgage market, property transactions continued to stagnate.

He said: “To really see a boost, we need to fix our country’s imbalance between supply and demand by building more homes. Not only for first-time buyers, but across all housing tenures – young and old, renters and homeowners.

“As an industry, we are working to provide the solutions needed but we also need to ensure the government is increasing supply and making the UK housing market accessible for all.”

But Joshua Elash, director of property lender MT Finance, said it came as no surprise to see transaction numbers dropping month-on-month in the residential space.

He said he expected this trend to continue while uncertainty over Brexit continued to impact the market for consumers and while “overly aggressive tax treatment” continued to dampen investor activity and appetite in the buy-to-let market.

Meanwhile head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, Brian Murphy, said the figures demonstrated a level of consistency in the market.

Mr Murphy added: “While the number of sales last month doesn’t equate to a ‘spring surge’ by any means and is down slightly on the previous month, equally they potentially point to a degree of resilience in the face of ongoing political headwinds.

“[The figures] indicate that the market continues to turn over steadily, rather than any dramatic peaks and troughs, which many may suggest is no bad thing.”

By Imogen Tew

Source: FT Adviser

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Property transactions down in September

There were 98,400 residential property transactions in September, down 0.5% from August and 2.7% year-on-year, HMRC property statistics showed.

Similarly the seasonally adjusted estimate showed 9,450 non-residential property transactions in August, decreasing by 6.7% from September and 7.3% lower than that last year.

Steve Seal, director of sales and marketing, Bluestone Mortgages, said: “Again, it’s the same story as last month, and the month before. Seasonal activity continues to remain flat, with rising living costs and house prices discouraging many aspiring homeowners from entering the property market.

“We mustn’t also forget the added burden of saving enough money on the side to cover a mortgage deposit.

“Building more affordable housing isn’t new news. However, it’s not just a question of building more ‘one size fits all’ housing, but building stock across all the different stages of the housing cycle.

“Demand may outweigh supply in London, for example, but in other parts of the UK, supply outweighs demand due to a lack of appropriate housing stock for aspiring families or those looking to downsize.

“With a week until the Autumn Budget, it is vital that the industry and government work together to address these issues and commit to a long-term genuine plan.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, added: “Transactions will always be a much better test of property market health than prices.

“These numbers show the patient to be in reasonable condition but still fairly weak so vulnerable to any unpleasant Budget medicine which may stall their recovery.

“On the ground, some buyers and sellers are cautiously coming to the market but in nowhere near the numbers hoped for or expected. As a result, sentiment is not strong and only those prepared to negotiate hard are successful.

“The content of the Budget, one way or the other, will make a difference to property market prospects for the rest of this year, as will the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations.”

Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen, illustrated that property transactions took a dip at the end of the summer as the property market cooled down in September, and also highlighted the significance of the upcoming Budget on 29 October.

He said: “Property transactions took a dip at the end of the summer as the property market cooled down in September. After a strong August, activity in UK housing has sunk back down to earth.

“Overall however, transaction figures prove that talk of a housing market crash at the hands of Brexit uncertainty is seemingly overdone.

“While London continues to suffer from a significant property market freeze, the housing market outside the capital continues to be active. People are ignoring the lack of clarity from the government and are instead pressing ahead with the business of buying and selling homes.

“Looking ahead to next week’s Budget, it would be surprising if the Chancellor didn’t continue his support for first-time buyers who have been a major engine that’s helped keep the UK’s housing market moving through 2018.

“The entire property sector is hoping for a helping hand to keep what momentum we do have going into 2019.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Property transactions hit four-year low, but are sales picking up?

Transactions in England and Wales are at their lowest level since the new graduated rates of Stamp Duty were introduced, but may be starting to improve, figures suggest.

Data from property investor London Central Portfolio (LCP), based on cumulative Land Registry sales registered in the 12 months to July, show residential property transactions fell 2% in that period to 876,628.

This is the lowest annual figure since the new graduated Stamp Duty system was introduced in 2014, LCP said.

Average prices in England and Wales are up 2.5% annually in the 12 months to July to £293,897, while new-builds are priced at a 21% premium at £343,175, according to the research.

The capital has seen a bigger drop in sales, down 8.3% over the 12 months to 3,831 in prime areas and 6.5% in Greater London to 88,189.

Average prices in prime central London (PCL) are up 12.5% annually to £1.96m, while Greater London saw a 2.2% increase to £293,897.

The data also shows that new-build prices in London have reached record highs, at £3.4m in PCL and £784,892 in Greater London.

Naomi Heaton, chief executive of LCP, said: “There are very few causes for optimism in the domestic property market, where real terms, inflation-adjusted house prices are no higher than they were in 2007.

“Affordability remains heavily constrained in a post-Mortgage Market Review world, where wage growth struggles to out-pace inflation.

“Artificial stimulation of the market through Help to Buy and first-time buyer incentives has supported the market but there is a general reticence amongst up- and down-sizers to commit at this point.

“The continued lack of a defined exit plan from the European Union, combined with economic uncertainty and a number of punitive tax changes targeting the buy-to-let sector, have caused the market to stagnate.”

However, official Land Registry data suggests transactions actually picked up last month.

Its latest Price Paid Data for July 2018 shows 89,454 residential sales lodged at the Land Registry last month.

This was up 12.2% on June and the third consecutive month that registrations have increased.

The figure is also up 1.7% annually.

There is a time lag between a property sale and its registration, but the Land Registry said 24,719 transactions took place in July of which 526 were of residential properties in England and Wales for £1m and over.

The most expensive residential sale was of a terrace property in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London for £18.5m, while the cheapest was a terrace property in Henllys, Cwmbran, for £6,120.

Source: Property Industry Eye