UK property sales fell considerably in April, latest data shows

Taylor Scott International News

Residential property sales in the UK fell by 45.2% between March and April and was probably due to a boost in the previous weeks to beat the stamp duty surcharge for additional homes. The provisional seasonally adjusted UK property transaction figures from HMRC for April 2016 was 84,280 residential and 10,090 non-residential sales. April’s seasonally adjusted figure is 14.5% lower compared with the same month last year and the report says that the large increase in sales for March 2016 followed by the substantial reduction in April is likely to be associated with the stamp duty surcharge of 3% for buy to let properties and second homes. However, the report points out that whilst April 2016 is lower than April 2015, it should be noted that the total for March and April 2016 is still substantially higher than the corresponding period last year. The additional property rates were announced in the Autumn Statement 2015 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in the Scottish Government's draft 2016/2017 budget for Scotland. The HMRC report also says that additional non-tax factors may have played a role as well, for example the Bank of England's plans to curb buy to let mortgages resulting in a rush to purchase. For April 2016 the number of non-adjusted residential sales was about 59.2% lower compared with March 2016. The number of non-adjusted residential transactions was 18.7% lower than in April 2015. Greg Bryce, managing director at SearchFlow, said it was inevitable that there would be a significant fall in April and he pointed out that if you take into account the total for March and April, activity levels are still substantially higher than the corresponding period last year. ‘The activity levels are widely recognised to be attributed to the additional surcharge and unreflective of any market malaise. Our latest conveyancing sentiment survey reveals that a third of conveyancers are expecting activity levels to increase by 1% to 10% over the next three months,’ said Bryce. ‘However, as expected, uncertainty surrounding the referendum is setting in, with 40% unsure how the market will perform over the next three months. But with the economy strong, employment level high, interest rates low and the economic and housing policies unlikely to change very much, the clear majority believe that regardless of the referendum result, activity levels will remain buoyant for the second half of the year,’ he added. The fall in sales was in line with industry expectations, according to Doug Crawford, chief executive officer of My Home Move. ‘With thousands of pounds potentially at stake there was a clear incentive for landlords to complete ahead of the 01 April deadline, and the falling off of transaction volumes confirms the vast majority did so,’ he said. He pointed out that the drop follows data published by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) last week, which highlighted that mortgage lending fell 29% between March and April and he… Taylor Scott International

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