The number of property transactions in the UK was down 12.4 per cent in July when compared to last year, official data has shown.
HM Revenue and Customs’ property transactions stats, published today (August 21), showed there were 86,630 residential property transactions completed in the month of July — down 8.5 per cent month-on-month and 12.4 per cent year-on-year.
When seasonally adjusted, the figures showed the number of transactions was lower in July than at any other point in the past year.
According to the findings, July 2019 figures were also the lowest July figures since at least 2015.
But Neil Knight, business development director at Spicerhaart, said the figures did not replicate what he was “seeing on the ground”.
He said the figures showed a “fairly gloomy picture for the housing market” when figures from the National House Building Council showed 43,438 new homes were registered between April and June 2019, which was 12 per cent more than in the year before and the highest since the end of 2007.
Mr Knight said: “While overall the housing market may be subdued, the new homes market is much more buoyant.
“We are being led to believe that the house building industry has almost ground to a halt, but that is simply not true.
“The demand is there and the activity is too and it is great to see such confidence in new-build housing despite uncertain economic and political times. Let's hope it filters through to the rest of the market.”
However Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent, said transactions were a “better barometer” of the property market than prices and thought the figures were “disappointing but not surprising” bearing in mind the degree of political uncertainty.
He added: “Nevertheless, we are seeing on the ground that even in the traditionally quiet summer period, buyers are emerging from their slumber and looking beyond Brexit.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “[The figures] reveal a further slip-sliding of transactions compared with the same period last year as buyers and sellers continue to put big decisions like moving house on hold.”
But Mr Harris said for those who were brave enough to “take the plunge”, the mortgage market was “incredibly cheap” as with fewer transactions, lenders were having to compete harder for business.
Mortgage lenders have taken a hit to their profits and margins lately as the so-called mortgage price war has resulted in rates being slashed — and cheaper mortgages for consumers.
Although Brexit had appeared to dampen the market, Kevin Roberts, director at L&G Mortgage Club, thought there were clearly “other barriers” preventing a boost to transaction levels.
He said: “Our research shows only one in ten borrowers plan to delay buying or selling as a result of Brexit, so it’s clear there are other barriers preventing a boost to transaction levels.
“While government schemes have helped thousands of first-time buyers onto the property ladder – we need to think about those further up the ladder too.