Sales of homes in the UK are falling with the latest official figures showing that seasonally adjusted residential transactions decreased by 7.2% between February and March 2018.
On an annual basis sales are also down. The data from HMRC shows that they fell by 11.8% compared with March 2017.
Meanwhile, the number of non-adjusted residential transactions was about 13.3% higher month on month but the number of non-adjusted transactions was 10.9% lower than in March 2017.
‘Our estimate of seasonally adjusted transactions shows a decrease this month, largely because the number of unadjusted transactions increased at a lower rate in March 2018 compared with the same month in previous years,’ said a spokesman.
‘However, the figures for the latest month should always be treated with caution as there is some degree of estimation on volumes. This is due to the lag in the overall volume of transactions occurring and informing HMRC through the SDLT (stamp duty) return.
Kevin Roberts, director of the Legal & General Mortgage Club, pointed out that sales have remained broadly flat for some time now, as the lack of housing supply and rising demand continues to take its toll.
‘Not only is this limiting the options available to potential borrowers looking to buy their first property, but it’s having an impact higher up the ladder too, with many homeowners opting to improve rather than move,’ he explained.
‘However, there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful and it remains a good time to get a mortgage. Interest rates and mortgage rates are still close to their historic lows. Those who wait may find rates are not so favourable in six to 12 months’ time,’ he added.
Monthly variations are still giving way to the underlying trend of a lack of supply, leaving the market unable to fully serve the needs of all of those within it, or wishing to enter, according to Steve Seal, director of sales and marketing at Bluestone Mortgages.
‘Combine our lack of supply with the rising cost of living, and it’s clear that finances are being tightened for those trying to save for a deposit. For some, this squeeze could ultimately mean there are no savings should an unexpected bill, accident or illness unfortunately arise,’ he said.
‘However, this shouldn’t mean these borrowers are barred from home ownership should they miss one or two payments. Specialist lenders therefore have an important role to play in providing tailored support to ensure that those who have gone through life’s unexpected bumps, have the best chance of fulfilling their property aspirations,’ he added.