Residential property sales in September 2019 were 2.3% higher than September 2018 and 5% higher than August 2019, the latest official figures show.
The data published by HMRC also shows that overall there were 101,740 residential sales and 10.500 non-residential sales in September.
For the non-residential sector that was an increase of 7.7% compared with August 2019 and a rise of 0.2% compared to September 2018.
The increase in sales has met with positive reaction from the property industry. ‘An increase in transactions is always good news but it is only marginal as we sit, wait and hope, that something will move Brexit along, bringing some positivity into what is a suppressed and subdued housing market,’ said Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance.
‘The uplift in transactions compared with last year is encouraging, although you would expect an increase from August as people come back to work after their summer holidays and get on with things. We would have expected a bigger increase in transactions in September but then the protracted negotiations over Brexit have put paid to that,’ he pointed out.
‘Ultimately, people have to move at some point, for whatever reason. The reality is that as those at the top end of the transactional flow are holding fire, the trickle down stimulus is removed and others aren’t able to move up the chain. Everyone is impacted,’ he added.
According to Neil Knight, business development director at Spicerhaart Part-Exchange and Assisted Move, described the figures as encouraging. ‘If you take into account the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit this paints a pretty rosy picture,’ he said.
‘We’re certainly continuing to see strong demand at Spicerhaart and I’m hopeful that if MPs can now get Brexit sorted, we will see a lot more confidence return to the market. We’re also looking to the Chancellor to make some changes to stamp duty, which is having a very damaging effect on people looking to move home,’ he added.
But Vadim Toader, chief executive officer of Proportunity, a Proptech company providing equity loans for first time buyers, believes that it is still too hard to get on the housing ladder with high rents and weak wage growth eating into the ability for people to save up for a deposit.
‘First time buyers pay reduced stamp duty, but they still have to pay up front costs in terms of legal and surveying fees. Those who can’t rely on the bank of mum and dad to help them out need another option, and with the Government planning to wind up Help to Buy, alternative solutions are needed,’ he said.
With the number of residential transactions in September increased on both August and the same month last year, it shows there is still movement in the market, according to Jonathan Samuels, chief executive officer of property lender Octane Capital.
‘The uncertainty of Brexit is being countered by exceptionally low borrowing costs, a strong jobs market and house prices that have moved within reach. The 5% increase in transactions on August suggests that more people are committing to a purchase now rather than wait until Brexit has played out. There’s a certain urgency that wasn’t there earlier in the year,’ he pointed out.
‘Prospective buyers are aware the market could run away from them if a Brexit deal goes ahead. Given the unprecedented politico-economic environment we find ourselves in, the residential property market is showing remarkable resilience,’ he added.