Data from HM Revenue & Customs shows that the sale of residential properties rose a marginal 0.8 per cent last month – but even so, this was 7.3 per cent lower than in November 2015.
The first two quarters of 2016 were substantially higher than the comparable period a year earlier, but Revenue & Customs says this is chiefly down to the glut of purchases by landlords to beat the April 1 stamp duty surcharge deadline.
It is suggested that non-fiscal measures – for example the Bank of England’s restrictions on mortgage lending for buy to let purchases, and the economic uncertainty after the June 23 Brexit vote – may also have played a role in the dropping transaction numbers over the course of the year.
“It’s unsurprising to find that transactions have fallen annually in November, after months of uncertainty, and as landlords continue to struggle under the weight of changes to tax relief, the stamp duty surcharge and strict new lending criteria” says Paul Smith, chief executive of Haart estate agents.
Meanwhile Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “Though a little historic, the HMRC numbers confirm what we’re finding ‘on the ground’. In other words, the market has continued to show considerable resilience post-Brexit as buyers prepared to negotiate hard but fair are getting transactions done.
“We have always regarded the number and pace of transactions to be much more relevant when assessing market strength than the ups and downs of house prices. Christmas came early for many areas with markets quieter earlier than usual. It remains to be seen whether the usual early new year optimism can be translated into sales.”