Homes for sales in UK slump to 14 year low

The supply of available housing in the UK is at its lowest level in 14 years with buy to let landlords rushing to complete ahead of tax change, new research shows.

Property investors are trying to avoid the additional 3% stamp duty charge on buy to let and second homes from 01 April, according to the report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) but sales to first time buyers are also up.

The January Housing Market report shows that the number of properties available per member branch fell to 33 in January, the lowest recorded since December 2002 when just 25 properties were available per member branch.
In contrast, demand for housing soared in January, with an average 453 house hunters registered per branch, the highest recorded since July 2015 and a 21% increase from December when there were an average 374 registered, during a seasonal lull in activity.
This reflects increased activity from landlords pushing to complete sales ahead of the upcoming buy to let stamp duty surcharge, the report suggests. Indeed, 72% of estate agents reported an increase in interest from landlords, a rise from 44% in December.
Almost a third, 29%, of the total sales made in January were to first time buyers, an increase of 5% from December 2015, the report also shows.
‘Our findings this month reflect what we are all seeing across the market which is that landlords are trying to complete on sales ahead of the changes to stamp duty on additional homes in April. It continues to be a sellers’ market as demand outstrips supply,’ said Mark Hayward, NAEA managing director.
‘The number of sales made to firs time buyers has increased this month, and we should expect to see their market share rise after April. The fact that housing supply has reached a 14 year low really highlights the need for the government to push the house building programme to the very top of their agenda and help more first time buyers make their first step on to the housing ladder,’ he added.