Property sales in UK increased at beginning of this year, official data shows

Residential property sales in the UK were positive at the beginning of the year, up 0.8% between December 2018 and January 2019, official data shows.

Overall there were 101,170 residential sales, taking them 1.3% higher than January 2018, according to the figures from HMRC. They increased by 0.9% year on year.

Meanwhile, the figures also show that non-residential property transactions increased by 0.2% between December 2018 and January 2019, and were 2.4% higher than January 2018. Year on year they increased by 3%.

The HMRC report also gives some historical figures, showing that the fall in transactions starting at the end of 2007 coincided with the housing market slump and financial crisis. Prior to this, transaction counts had risen steadily, peaking in the middle of 2006.

The December 2009 peak for the seasonally adjusted estimate was associated with the end of the stamp duty ‘holiday’, during which the lower tax threshold was raised to £175,000. The peak in March 2016 is associated with the introduction of higher rates on additional properties in April 2016.

As with residential transactions, the 2007 financial crisis triggered a fall in non-residential transactions. Although, this was less pronounced than the former. Non-residential transactions had seen a generally flat seasonal cycle between September 2010 and September 2013.

But since then, there has been a generally rising trend. The seasonal non-residential pattern generally features a low point at the start of the calendar year, with a corresponding peak each March, coinciding with the end of the financial year, the report adds.

The figures suggest that despite a lot of talk about a Brexit effect, the housing market is actually quite stable, according to Mike Scott, chief property analyst at online estate agent Yopa.

Mike Scott said:

‘We expect it to set the tone for the year as a whole, with around 1.2 million home sales in the whole of 2019, as there have been in every year since 2013. This level of activity is consistent with a steady market, neither booming nor crashing, so house prices should continue to rise slowly during the year, roughly in line with wage increases.’

However, Kevin Roberts, director of the Legal & General Mortgage Club, believes that political uncertainty and financial barriers such as stamp duty are still influencing some home owners to improve not move.

Kevin Roberts said:

‘We need to see more initiatives for those higher up the property ladder. One creative solution would be to extend the stamp duty exemption to last time buyers. This would free up larger properties for growing families and allow younger home buyers to move onto or up the property ladder.’


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