UK Property Sales Slump Mainly in the South

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The UK property market’s sales slump following the aborted March Brexit deadline has mainly been confined to the south, according to new analysis by property developer Southern Grove.

The UK residential property sales slump began on an annual basis in May after the country experienced a Brexit wobble.

But rather than a sales slump, most areas of the UK actually saw an increase in the number of homes sold in that time, according to the latest Land Registry data.

Detailed analysis now shows that it was mainly in the South – where stretched valuations made the region acutely vulnerable to the risks associated with the political deadlock – that there was a widespread decline in sales with much of southern England and southern Wales skewing the overall picture.

The sales slump first reared its head in June’s HMRC figures, which showed sales volumes had dropped 11.3 per cent in the 12 months to May 2019 as homeowners and buyers shelved their plans pending Britain’s exit from the European bloc on March 29.

Analysis shows that of 406 local authority areas in the UK, 168 (41.4 per cent) saw transactions fall between May 2018 and May 2019 and 104 of these places (62 per cent) were in the South.

The sales slump in the year on year figures later worsened, reaching a 16.5 per cent fall in June and 12.4 per cent drop in July before largely recovering in August.

Worst affected areas in the sales slump included North Dorset (35.4 per cent down), Harrogate (33.9 per cent down) and East Cambridgeshire (down 29.6 per cent).

In the year to May 2019, Wales saw sales volumes climb 5.3 per cent on average with nine of 22 local authority areas (41 per cent) seeing declines.

In England, transactions increased by 2.9 per cent on average but fell annually in 157 of 352 areas (44.6 per cent).

In Scotland, just two of 32 local authorities (6.3 per cent) saw a fall in sales and the entire country actually recorded a 20.5 per cent rise in transactions.

Andrew Southern, Chairman of developer Southern Grove, commented: ‘This is an eye-opening dissection of a collapse in sales that was clearly weighted towards the South. It’s a region that has seen huge price growth over the past five years so it’s no accident.

‘Homeowners in more expensive areas clearly felt it was better to ride out the storm, as any subsequent purchase would carry a hefty stamp duty bill at a time when they couldn’t be confident property values would be bulletproof in the medium term.’

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