The number of UK properties being bought and sold fell by an annual 2.6 per cent in August as financial barriers such as stamp duty put people off moving.
There were 99,120 residential transactions in August, compared to 101,800 a year earlier, according to the latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs.
However, on a monthly basis property transactions climbed 1.3 per cent between July and August. That compares to a monthly fall of 0.8 per cent between June and July.
Stagnant market: The number of UK properties being bought and sold fell 2.6 per cent year-on-year last month as financial barriers such as stamp duty put people off moving
Kevin Roberts, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: ‘Property transactions have remained stagnant for some time now.
‘Financial barriers, like stamp duty, are discouraging homeowners from moving up the ladder and instead choosing to “improve, not move”.’
At its pre-financial crisis peak there were around 150,000 reported transactions per month, which was followed by a sharp decline at the end of 2007, coinciding with the housing market slump and credit-crunch.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS chairman, said: ‘These numbers show that the patient is in reasonable health and has taken the interest rate medicine in its stride, showing activity holding up reasonably well and even progressing marginally compared with previous months.
‘The market enters the important autumn period with reasonable confidence, not expecting any great changes either way.
‘On the high street we have noticed more interest in buying and selling, although we are finding it hard for deals to gain traction unless there is realism on all sides.’
Brian Murphy, head of lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau said that despite the year-on-year drop the number of completed sales remained at a healthy level.
‘Of course, August completions are the result of deals agreed in May or June, but even so this would potentially indicate that the market has been relatively resilient to the ongoing political and economic headwinds and headlines over the summer,’ he said.
Done deals: There were 99,120 residential transactions in August, compared to 101,800 a year earlier, according to the latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs
‘It’s a clear case of those who are in the moving cycle “just getting on with it” and not letting whatever is going on in the news affect their decision making process.’
Founder and CEO of Emoov.co.uk, Russell Quirk, was similarly upbeat.
‘Despite today’s prophecies of the five mini horsemen of the property apocalypse dragging the market down, both yesterday’s house price data and today’s transactions figures paint a slightly different story,’ he said.
‘Since the beginning of the year property transactions have slowly but surely risen from the ashes with August recording the highest level of monthly sales since the start of 2017, bar just one month.
Holding up: Brian Murphy, head of lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau said that despite the year-on-year drop the number of completed sales remained at a healthy level
‘When removing any influences due to seasonality, transactions levels have also recorded a monthly uplift and have remained consistently strong so far this year, while only marginally off the pace when compared to last year.
‘Although we may well see things start to unwind from now until December, forecasts of a category five housing market demise have most definitely been revised to a category two at worst.’
Mike Scott, chief property analyst at Yopa, the low fixed-fee estate agent, added: ‘This continues the trend of housing market activity in 2018 running slightly behind 2017, with 2018 likely to have the slowest-moving market since 2013, with a little under 1.2million house sales in total.
‘However, that said, it will still be well ahead of the years from 2008 to 2012, in the aftermath of the 2008 credit crunch.’
It follows the Office for National Statistics figures released this week which revealed house prices in London plunged to their lowest rate of growth in almost a decade in July, falling 0.7 per cent.