Speculation surrounding whether Boris Johnson will honour his pledge to reduce stamp duty risks bringing the housing market “to a grinding halt” warns the head of an online estate agency.
The chief executive of HouseSimple, Sam Mitchell, says of the rumour: “It might help first-time buyers or those moving up the chain but it runs the risk of bringing the property ladder to a grinding halt as those at the top end of the ladder will be deterred from ever downsizing to free up larger homes.”
Johnson made a number of broad pledges during his Conservative leadership campaign about the need to reform SDLT, but whilst he has made a number of spending and other commitments since taking office he has so far remained silent on stamp duty.
Mitchell continues: “Whatever is decided, the most important thing for policy makers is to provide clarity to the market as quickly as possible. With uncertainty about Brexit and policy changes expected to increase in the months to come, smart sellers should look to take advantage of the relative calm of the summer to get their moves over the line.”
His comments come as his agency’s regular snapshot of the housing market in 100 major towns and cities across the UK show that the number of new property listings fell by 3.3 per cent in July.
However, HouseSimple claims the summer slowdown between June and July was gentler this year with that 3.3 per cent drop than in 2018, when it was 5.9 per cent down.
With 59,710 new property listings coming to market, July 2019 was the third best month for listings this year after May and June, an indication that underlying momentum within the market remained strong.
As ever, these national figures show substantial regional variations.
The East Midlands had a 1.5 per cent rise in new property listings; there was also marginal growth in Yorkshire and the West Midlands in July.
Meanwhile the greatest fall in supply was in Wales, down a full 7.1 per cent, where Swansea, Cardiff and Newport all saw chunky reductions in the number of new homes to the market.
The North East experienced a 6.9 per cent fall in new property listings in July, fuelled by big reductions in Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne.
London house sellers also felt the heat with new supply down 3.8 per cent in the capital from June to July; the worst borough was Bexley, down 15.7 per cent.