UK property sales down 1.4% in January, latest data shows


UK property sales fell in January, with the seasonally adjusted estimate for the month down by 1.4% compared to December 2014.

The latest data from HMRC shows that there were 97,320 residential transactions and confirms that in recent months the trend in seasonally adjusted transactions has been on a slight downward trend.

In January 2015 the number of non-adjusted residential transactions fell compared with December 2014, and was also lower compared with January 2014.

‘This is usual during this month of the year, although the number of non-adjusted residential transactions was also lower compared with January 2014. Please note that the figures for the two most recent months are provisional and therefore subject to revision,’ an HMRC spokesman said.

The figures are based on HMRC’s Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) database, which records the information submitted by property purchasers on the Land Transaction Return.

The data also shows that there has been an increase in the number of non-residential transactions. The seasonally adjusted estimate for January 2015 is 2.1% higher than in December 2014, and 8% higher compared with January 2014.

‘Seasonally adjusted transactions of non-residential property have increased slightly over the year. Non adjusted transactions have seen some monthly peaks and falls during the last financial year, this can be expected due to the seasonal nature of purchases,’ the spokesman added.

Peter Rollings, chief executive officer of Marsh & Parsons, explained that while property sales may have faded slightly in January, buyer demand is still strong. ‘New shades of regulation in the mortgage market have slowed the process, but they’ve made it more robust too and borrowers and lenders are benefiting from more thorough and effective affordability checks,’ he said.

‘As a result, the buyers who have their finances in place are eager to move quickly. January has seen a boost in agreed sales, which has firmly set the ball rolling for 2015, and this will only gather faster momentum during the spring,  typically one of the most popular times to move house when these completions come to fruition,’ he pointed out.

‘Generous mortgage rates are giving borrowers more room for manoeuvre than ever before, and reduced stamp duty costs are another incentive greasing the wheels of activity at the lower end of the housing market, helping consumer confidence speed up. After the market re-adjustment we’ve witnessed recently, price growth will soon start ploughing forward again, although likely at a slower stride than last year,’ he added.

According to Adrian Gill, director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, the UK housing market is temporarily treading water at the higher end, but fast moving in areas where price growth has been more modest, and where cheaper properties are within reach of new buyers and borrowers who can access Help to Buy.

‘London has long been the propeller driving forward growth, but after cruising ahead at full speed in 2014, the London property market has run aground momentarily. This is just a symptom of the unsustainable rate of growth that the market stretched to last year, as the capital now takes a pause,’ he explained.

‘While a prospective mansion tax and higher rate of Stamp Duty on million pound homes may be a blot on the buying landscape at the top end, everyday buyers are simply able to take their time to deliberate and get their finances in order now that market conditions have rationalised again,’ he pointed out.

‘While sales volumes across the south are slightly more sluggish, the North is the current powerhouse of activity. This growth is built on sustained first time buyer appetite for homes. In these areas demand is thriving as buyers enjoy the perfect storm of record low mortgage rates, more affordable house prices and lower stamp duty costs, and the best properties are being snapped up quickly,’ he added.

‘Coupling those conditions with steady price growth, buyers are seeing many reasons to act now. Homeownership is spreading its wings and breeding further confidence in the market, all in all, it’s a promising start to the New Year,’ he concluded.



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