House sales slowing in the UK, latest data suggests

Total house sales on a seasonally adjusted basis in the UK have fell by 3.5% in May but this is 14.8% higher than in the same month last year, according to the latest figures from HMRC.

The provisional seasonally adjusted UK property sales count for May 2014 was 99,320 residential and 8,800 non-residential transactions.

The trend since the beginning of the 2013/2014 financial year has been of a general month on month increase in transactions for the seasonally adjusted data until February 2014, after which there has been a gradual decrease, the data report shows.

Recent non-seasonally adjusted transactions peaked in November 2013, the highest level since November 2007, then steadily declined until February 2014, after which there has been a gradual increase.

According to Peter Rollings, chief executive officer of Marsh & Parsons, the figures show that the country has moved into a new chapter of the housing market recovery.  ‘The story so far this year has been one of record breaking house price rises, due to intense competition for available properties and a new wave of first time buyers climbing on the property ladder,’ he said.

‘But on a seasonally adjusted basis, total house sales have also fallen 3.5%. The impact of the Mortgage Market Review is still to be determined, but the introduction of tougher lending conditions has lengthened the approval process as the mortgage market adapts to this regulatory shake up and stabilises,’ he explained.

‘Price growth is beginning to tail off as more property becomes available, offering buyers some welcome respite from the frenetic pace of the market and greater choice. This is also great news for sellers looking for their onward purchase, and will normalise trading conditions and boost activity levels,’ he added.

He also pointed out that with interest rate rises lenders are increasingly cautious against higher risk mortgage loans and implementing stricter affordability criteria to ensure that borrowing remains responsible.

‘However the government and the Bank of England should be wary of taking their foot off the gas completely. The London property market may be standing head and shoulders above the rest of the country, but further afield initiatives such as Help to Buy have been vital crutches helping the recovery get back on track,’ added Rollings.