Housing transactions up at the start of the year

Michael Lloyd

March 22, 2019

The number of property transactions increased from January to February, HMRC data shows.

There were 101,780 residential transactions (provisionally seasonally adjusted) in February, up 1.7% month-on-month and 2.7% year-on-year. Furthermore, there were 10,650 non-residential transactions in February, an increase of 6.7% from January and 2.1% year-on-year.

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: “February is never likely to be the busiest month of the year for the housing market.

“But rather encouragingly it is holding up remarkably well considering what it’s up against as the Brexit debacle understandably affects buyer and seller sentiment.

“Sadly, we seem no nearer a resolution with this talk of an extension to the deadline and it is only until decisions are made one way or another that we can all finally move on.

“On the lending front, Swap rates are also fairly stable and therefore mortgage rates are as well. There is much speculation as to what will happen to rates in the next few months but for now mortgage rates are extremely competitive with plenty of attractive options for those brave enough to take the plunge.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, added: “Transactions are always a much better indicator of property market health than more volatile prices, which can fluctuate more often month by month.

“This point was no better illustrated than in yesterday’s disappointing ONS/Land Registry figures. What the HMRC numbers show is that demand can only remain pent up for so long, irrespective of political uncertainty.

“We have noticed more of a cautious ‘why not?’ replacing ‘why?’ as a mantra for many. Business is tough but realistic buyers and sellers are managing to find a compromise reflecting future price expectations and moving on.”

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of specialist lender MT Finance, said: “The HMRC data is really quite positive because it is simply demonstrating month-on-month continued growth for the housing market, no mean feat when you consider the ongoing farce that is Brexit.

“While MPs make a mockery of us as they can’t come to the right decision, the property market is ticking along regardless. There is no doom and gloom around it, there is still positive sentiment and people are transacting.

“It is also encouraging that there is growth in non-residential property transactions. Clearly, businesses are stable and continuing to invest in commercial assets.”

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