Official figures show that property sales have fallen in the UK, down 3.9% between November and December 2017 and down 0.1% compared with 2016.
The data from the Land Registry shows that there were 99,100 residential sales in December and 10,390 non-residential transactions.
Non-residential property transactions fell by 3.3% between November and December 2017 and were 3.3% lower than the same month in 2016.
According to Shaun Church, director at mortgage broker Private Finance, it was a case of the property market holding steady in 2017 rather than significant growth. ‘Total transactions fell slightly on the previous year and returned to 2014 levels,’ he said.
‘However, the fact the market remains resilient in the face of significant economic and political change is a cause for celebration rather than concern. There is potential for growth in pockets of the market in 2018,’ he pointed out.
He believes that following the removal of stamp duty for the majority of first time buyers, lenders are likely to improve their offering for new home owners, and competitive mortgage rates should help stoke activity in this area.
‘However, the high cost of moving for those further up the property ladder means transactions in this area remain limited, with many choosing to improve instead of move. The Government has emphasised its commitment to improving house building levels and real activity on this front is needed to achieve a significant boost in housing activity. Although house price growth has moderated in recent years, affordability challenges remain and more stock is needed to improve accessibility to the property ladder,’ he added.
Stephen Wasserman, managing director of West One Loans, thinks that consumer and investor confidence in bricks and mortar dipped slightly following a period of market growth in the sector. ‘Despite this, we’re confident the market will show its resilience and transactions will look up again in the coming months, as the effects of the stamp duty changes begin to be seen,’ he said.
‘Last year we experienced a steady increase in investors taking out bridging loans and this was mirrored by the sector seeing a very strong year with gross annual lending reaching £4.7 billion, surpassing the pre-Brexit high. These investors should continue to make the most of the flexibility and speed this unique type of financing offers, making it a perfect suit for navigating uncertain times,’ he added.