The number of residential property transactions in May was a thumping 11.3 per cent lower than the same month last year, raising concerns amongst agents for the market for the rest of 2019.
Figures from HM Revenue & Customs suggest that over the course of just one month - April to May - the fall was a still-worrying 6.4 per cent.
According to former RICS residential faculty chair Jeremy Leaf, himself a London agent, says that the figures evidently demonstrate a weakness in sales at the time of year when more strength would have been expected.
“However, the seasonal nature of the market makes spotting short-term trends difficult. Irrespective of Brexit, let’s hope the fall in the number of transactions and their impact on the wider economy is near the top of the new Prime Minister’s agenda” he says.
The chief property analyst at online agency Yopa, Mike Scott, says the poor transaction total comes despite relatively healthy mortgage approval figures.
“This may reflect a temporary slowdown in the number of sales agreed in the immediate run-up to the original Brexit deadline at the end of March, which has now carried through to fewer sale completions” he says.
“If so, then we will see the slowdown in the number of sales continue into next month, and then start to recover, at least until the end of the year after the new October deadline.”
Even Paul Smith, chief executive of Haart and an optimist on market issues, says the latest HMRC figures are “disappointing.”
He believes that a supply bottleneck is keeping transaction volumes low.
“Our data shows there are six per cent fewer properties for sale across the country compared to this time last year” he says, adding: “The picture is even more severe in London.”