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House sales up 1.3% in August

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The total number of residential property transactions between July and August increased by 1.3% to 101,800 on a seasonally adjusted basis, data has shown.

However, compared to August 2017, the number of residential transactions dropped by 2.6% to 99,120.

The figures continue the sluggish trend shown since late 2013, which has been punctuated only by the stamp duty surcharge-related spike in 2016.

Stamp duty discourages moving

Mike Scott, chief property analyst at Yopa, said the figures continued the trend of housing market activity in 2018 running slightly behind 2017.

He added that 2018 was likely to have the slowest-moving market since 2013, with a little under 1.2m house sales in total.

Kevin Roberts, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said urged government to cut stamp duty and help motive movers.

He added: “The government must continue to focus on delivering the thousands of new homes our country needs, but it’s important that we consider the challenges facing buyers further up the chain too.

“For example, a stamp duty exemption for last-time buyers would help stimulate activity and keep the housing cycle moving.

“Removing this barrier to older owners would open up properties for families who want to upsize and also the next generation of buyers who are trying to take their first step.”

Remortgaging numbers increased

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said the signs were still promising for a decent end to the year with a competitive lending market and remortgaging proving popular for residential borrowers,” he said.

“Buy-to-let has been hit hard with tax and regulatory changes but it is proving to be fairly resilient. While there has been a noticeable drop in novice landlords, many experienced investors continue to add to their portfolios.

“Remortgaging numbers have significantly increased as landlords opt for fixed rates to protect against further potential rate rises, or shift to another lender because their own is no longer active.

“We are also seeing a number of landlords change the way their asset is owned, moving it from their own name into a company, which generally requires refinancing.”

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