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Why Are Mortgage Sales Plummeting?

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There were increased signs of a slowdown in the UK property market last month, as the number of sales has fallen dramatically and even less are taking out mortgages. Analysis by data firm Equifax claims mortgage sales dropped by over 15% between March and April. But why is this happening? Here Mark Homer, Co-Founder of Progressive Property explains more for Finance Monthly.

Mortgage transaction volumes have continued to reduce, dropping in excess of 15% in most regions of the UK in April 2017 versus March 2017. As new mortgages tend to mirror overall property transaction volumes the whole market appears to be taking a breather. Continuing uncertainty caused by Brexit, Britain’s relationship with the EU and more immediately the general election appears to have put buyers off at least for the short term.

House prices have continued to fall in Prime London and growth has continued to moderate outside of the M25 with the Midlands and North showing reduced growth too. Overall UK house price growth has slowed to 4.1% in the year to March 2017. With much of the rest of the UK playing catch up to the huge growth in Central London since 2010 the market appears to be taking a breather.

Increased Stamp duty on buy to let properties, 2nd homes and higher end properties from March 2016 has had had a further dampening effect on the market with many taking a “wait and see” approach to moving house. A new buy to let tax which sees mortgage interest become not 100% off settable against rent for many from April 17 has also contributed to a more negative mood.

Interestingly, first time buyer purchases have increased since the stamp duty changes showing that the government’s policies to encourage these purchases over those of landlords appear to be working. With some lender’s mortgage rates now reaching their lowest ever rates sub 1% buying a home has become more attractive.

House price growth seems set to return to trend with 5%+ growth once these uncertainties subside and wage growth catches up with prices following a period of increased inflation after sterling devalued immediately after the vote to leave the EU.

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