Agents and property industry figures have given a clear message to the government six weeks ahead of the General Election - sort out Brexit, one way or the other.
“All markets abhor uncertainty and the housing market is no exception. The priority now must be for politicians to provide reassurance by forming a government, once elected, as quickly as possible” explains Nick Leeming, chairman at Jackson-Stops.
"Regardless of how the government is formed, it is clear that each of the main political parties’ manifestos need to have housing as a priority and so a clear strategy must be put in place to tackle punitive stamp duty costs” he adds.
“Whilst this does bring further uncertainty to the UK's housing market, it is key to remember that buying or selling a home isn't something that people do off the cuff. There is often an overriding reason for moving, whether this is being closer to a good school or childcare, or the need to upsize or downsize. These drivers do not simply stop existing because the country is set to vote in a General Election.”
Meanwhile Bob Weston, the Weston Homes’ chief executive, says he hopes the poll ends uncertainty “one way or the other” on Brexit.
And Geoffrey Lander, chairman of property legal consultancy Davitt Jones Bould, adds: “The dinner-party chat I hear is whether we remain in or leave the European Union is less important than a decision being taken so we can all move on.”
Brexit has also featured prominently in the latest National Association of Estate Agents’ market snapshot - the most recent expired deadline for a deal was seen by the NAEA as a possible reason for an upsurge in first time buyers.
“Low or no stamp duty on lower priced properties have proved to be a big reason behind this boost in the first time buyer market, however they could also be concerned that the market may turn against them if a Brexit deal is achieved and are buying now to avoid that scenario” says Mark Hayward, NAEA chief executive.
“Until we are clearer on what the future holds, it’s likely we’ll continue seeing the number of first-time buyer sales rising” he adds.
The number of sales made to first time buyers increased in September, to 30 per cent. This is the highest figure seen since February, and year on year it’s a rise of eight per cent from 12 months earlier.
The number of sales agreed per member branch fell to eight in September, the first time it has decreased since April.
The number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch decreased in September, from 433 to 387; year on year housing demand is up, though, rising from 338 house hunters per branch in September 2018.
In supply terms, the number of properties available per member branch also fell in September, from 44 in August to 40; this is a drop from the 46 recorded 12 months earlier.
“Despite a fall in demand from house hunters, first-time buyers have continued to show resilience as they take advantage of favourable market conditions and drive their transactions forward. The recent mortgage data released from UK Finance shows the number of first-time buyer mortgage completions reached its highest monthly level in August 2019 since August 2007, further highlighting this trend” says Hayward.