The Land Registry has published alarming figures within its monthly house price index that suggest property sales have dropped by nearly 22% over the past year and by 9.8% over the past month, despite more upbeat figures from RICS last month.
The situation is worst in London, where sales volumes are down by nearly a third year-on-year, the index reveals.
“This indicates the capital is currently a buyers’ market. Vendors will need to readjust their price expectations by sufficiently taking SDLT into consideration if they are looking for a swift sale,” says Guy Bradshaw, Director of Central London Sales and Lettings at Sotheby’s International Realty (pictured, left).
Other agents that The Negotiator talked to say there is no shortage of people wanting to move, but rather they are unwilling to pay the prices that properties were put on the market for weeks or months ago.
Stamp Duty increases
Most said a combination of the ongoing problems with the Brexit process, and recent increases in Stamp Duty for prime and buy-to-let property purchases, were to blame for the current market.
But not all agents think the drop in transaction levels is a bad thing, and point out that the surge that took place to beat Stamp Duty increases in 2016 have ‘skewed’ the Land Registry’s figures as prices and transactions have cooled off.
“The headline figures in London will continue to make disturbing reading for some but, privately, estate agents are cheering a cooling that has already begun to deliver a recovery in transaction levels,” says Lucy Pendleton of London agency James Pendleton (pictured, right).
But Lucy admits that the Land Registry figures show that the property overall remains “tight as a drum”.
The index also reveals that house prices are rising by 2.9% year-on-year but are beginning to sfote – sold prices increased by only 0.1% during April. The only exception to this is the East Midlands, where prices increased by 1.7% over the past month.