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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Brexit and stamp duty uncertainties hitting the market, say agents

Seemingly-endless uncertainty over Brexit and now speculation over whether there will be an easing of stamp duty on transactions is making the market even more difficult according to agents.

Responding to the latest Nationwide house price index - which shows annual house price growth below one per cent for an eighth straight month in July - London agent and former RICS residential chairman Jeremy Leaf says: “One of the reasons for the lack of activity is clearly political uncertainty but there is no doubt that talk of changes to stamp duty is also weighing on perspective sellers’ minds.”

He continues: “Fortunately, first-time buyers are slowly returning, taking advantage of buy to let landlord caution following various tax and regulation changes. Looking forward, we don’t expect the situation to change too radically until there is more clarity on the political front, although there is no doubt some buyers are looking beyond Brexit and making the most of more realistic pricing.”

The Nationwide’s figures show that the average price of a house across the UK in July was £217,663 with prices increasing by 0.3 per cent during the month.

But more optimistically, first time buyer transaction numbers have now almost recovered to normal pre-crisis levels.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, says: “While house price growth has remained fairly stable, there have been mixed signals from the property market in recent months.

“Surveyors report that new buyer enquiries have increased a little, though key consumer confidence indicators remain subdued. Data on the number of property transactions points to a slowdown in activity, though the number of mortgages approved for house purchase has remained broadly stable.

“Housing market trends will remain heavily dependent on developments in the broader economy. In the near term, healthy labour market conditions and low borrowing costs will provide underlying support, though uncertainty is likely to continue to exert a drag on sentiment and activity.”

Mike Scott, chief property analyst at online agency Yopa, says he expects house price growth to remain roughly stable for the rest of the year, adding: “The outlook for 2020 and beyond will depend on a return to political and economic stability once the first phase of the Brexit process has been completed.”

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