Tuesday 24 September 2019 1:01 pm

Housing market uncertainty persists as property transactions remain flat

Property transactions in August edged down slightly year-on-year, but buyers and sellers showed some signs of resilience despite the current Brexit uncertainty.

There were 99,890 residential deals in August 2019, falling 0.9 per cent from last year but rising 15.8 per cent compared with the previous month, according to new HMRC data published today.

Signs of the traditional “autumn bounce” in activity have faded this month, with recent data showing that house prices have also fallen in September for the first time since 2010.

The average price of newly listed homes fell by 0.2 per cent month-on-month in September, according to estate agent Rightmove.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “Once again it is transactions which are a better indicator of market health than more volatile boom and bust house prices. Although it is always dangerous to take one month in isolation, they do show continuing market resilience as buyers and sellers look beyond political uncertainty in the hope that it will now be relatively short lived.”

He added: “However, the numbers also demonstrate that transaction times and chains are lengthening, which is what we are seeing on the ground.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “Transaction numbers remained fairly subdued in August on a year-on-year basis, despite HMRC showing a significant fluctuation compared with July. But a steady market is what you would expect for the time of year – with the added spectre of Brexit looming, buyers and sellers didn’t have to look far for an excuse not to do anything but sit on their hands.”

Experts have noted that sellers are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach amid mounting speculation over Britain’s departure of the EU.

“Brexit and the recent political uncertainty has undoubtedly delayed the market’s seasonal bounce this year. Finally, after months of waiting we’ve seen a healthy uptick in transactions in August,” said Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops.

He added: “Buyers have had enough of waiting around for the ‘perfect’ time to sell and are now taking advantage of the ‘must move market’.”