January housing activity steady as she goes

Ryan Bembridge

February 21, 2018

The number of properties changing hands increased modestly between December 2017 and January 2018, Property Transaction Statistics from the HM Revenue & Customs show.

Transactions increased by 1.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis, although there were 0.1% fewer transactions in January 2018 compared to the same month the year before.

In response industry experts were divided, with some saying it demonstrates the robust nature of the housing market and others labelling the market as ‘stagnant’.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “These figures demonstrate yet again the remarkable resilience of the property market even in the traditionally quieter month of December.

“Activity remains steady, rather than spectacular, as buyers and sellers come to terms with more stable trading conditions and must be prepared to be realistic in order to successfully complete their transactions.”

However both Richard Sexton, director of e.surv, and Craig McKinglay, sales and marketing director at Kensington, were less positive.

Sexton said: “Property transactions have remained stagnant for quite some time now.

“If we are to see a real boost in numbers and overall market activity, we need to address our country’s limited housing supply which is acting as a roadblock.”

And McKinglay said: “Property transaction figures have remained stagnant for some time now, and this is a clear indication that limited housing supply continues to impact on the opportunities for buyers to move onto or up the property ladder, or even downsize in later life.”

He felt a cut to stamp duty for those looking to downsize would increase the transaction count.

Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, called for clarity from the government on the future of the Help to Buy equity loan scheme.

He said: “It’s great that we’ve seen genuine commitment and action from the government in recent months to tackle our housing crisis.

“However, whilst we’re certainly heading in the right direction, we’re lacking clarity from the government on long-term plans.

“The future of the Help to Buy scheme has yet to be guaranteed beyond 2021 and with many builders relying on the scheme, any further delay will create uncertainty in the market.”

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