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September 2017

UK property market activity slows

Published: Monday 11 September 2017

By David Fuller 

The number of homes currently for sale in the UK is at its lowest level since records began, new data shows.

Figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) show that the average number of homes advertised per estate agent branch had fallen to 35 in July, from 30 in June. This is the lowest figure since the group began tracking the data in 2002.

The number of people actively looking for a home has also fallen. The NAEA data shows that 347 interested buyers were registered per estate agent branch in July, down 10 percent from a month earlier. This is the lowest number since 2016, when 344 buyers were registered per branch, said the NAEA.

“It is natural for the market to dip in the summer and then recover," said Mark Hayward, the NAEA's chief executive. "We usually see a subdued July and August, and then a boom in September with an influx of new properties coming onto the market. It remains to be seen whether this year is typical. We’d also expect to see the number of house hunter increase, as buyers strive to complete sales before the winter kicks in.”

Earlier this week, latest house price data from Nationwide showed that prices fell by 2.9 percent from a month earlier. While they were still 2.1 percent higher than they were at the same time last year, this was the slowest annual growth rate recorded for three months.
“The slowdown in house price growth to the 2-3 percent range in recent months from the 4-5 percent prevailing in 2016 is consistent with signs of cooling in the housing market and the wider economy,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist.

One major estate agency believes that stamp duty should be cut by a third across the country to give the UK property market a much-needed boost.

Jackson-Stop & Staff claims that Stamp Duty is stopping people from moving, particularly in prime Central London, which in turn is causing a blockage for the rest of the market.

Toby Whittome, sales director at Jackson-Stops & Staff London, warned that prohibitive levels of Stamp Duty are preventing the settled domestic market buying and selling. That said, he did note that overseas buyers are still attracted to purchasing property in London due to the weak pound. There certainly seems to be an opportunity for overseas buyers in the current UK market.

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