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UK house sales down 9% compared with before Brexit vote, analysis finds

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
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UK house sales down 9% compared with before Brexit vote, analysis finds

House sales in parts of London have dropped by more than 40% since the Brexit vote while some other areas of the UK have seen a boom in transactions, according to analysis.

Using official figures, Yorkshire Building Society compared house sales numbers in the 12 months leading up to the vote to leave the EU in June 2016 with the 12 months leading up to May this year.

Comparing these two periods, it found that the London boroughs of Brent, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster have seen sales fall by 43%, 42% and 39% respectively, according to figures given by the Yorkshire to the PA news agency.

By contrast, sales in Torfaen in South Wales have surged by 45%.

In East Lothian in Scotland transactions are up by 23% and in Knowsley in the north west of England they have increased by 21%.

Several areas of Scotland and Wales have seen transactions increase.

In Scotland, areas seeing a sales pick-up include South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, North Ayrshire and Renfrewshire.

Parts of Wales seeing an uplift in properties changing hands also include Ceredigion and Blaenau Gwent.

Across the UK generally, Yorkshire Building Society found that house sales have decreased by 9% when comparing the two periods.

London has seen the most severe decline with sales down by 28%, followed by surrounding areas of southern England.

By contrast, in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North East of England, house sales have increased.

The Yorkshire said political uncertainty around Brexit could be a key factor for some when considering major purchases such as buying a home.

But some home buyers may decide that while others are holding back to wait for more certainty, now could be a good time to step in and get a deal.

(PA Graphics)

Nitesh Patel, Yorkshire Building Society’s strategic economist, said: “The housing market has become more stagnant in the UK as a whole since the EU referendum.

“But when we break down the analysis to a regional and local level, the picture becomes more complex.

“Numbers of sales in London, the South East, the East of England and the East and West Midlands are all significantly down in the past 12 months compared with the year before Brexit.”

He said the London market may have been affected particularly by the political uncertainty as the capital tends to attract high numbers of investors and overseas buyers.

Mr Patel continued: “But the drop in sales isn’t solely to do with confidence – high house prices and low levels of supply in London and the South East are also constraining activity.

“The changes to how landlords are taxed and regulatory measures have also contributed to the fall in sales.

“There’s been significant house sales growth in isolated parts of the North, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

Explaining what could be behind the increases in house sales, Mr Patel said increases in real wages and record levels of people in full-time employment have helped making buying a home generally more affordable.

Initiatives to support those wanting to get on to the property ladder, such as Help to Buy and abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers have also helped to boost sales, he said.

Mr Patel said: “It should be noted that consumer confidence is a key factor in buying big ticket items
such as homes and this downturn is likely to be a temporary phenomenon which will continue while uncertainty around Brexit exists.”

Here are the top 10 local authorities with the biggest falls in house sales when comparing the 12 months to June 2016 with the 12 months to May 2019, according to Yorkshire Building Society:
1. Brent, London, minus 43%
2. Kensington and Chelsea, London, minus 42%
3. City of Westminster, London, minus 39%
4. Slough, South East, minus 37%
5. Camden, London, minus 36%
=6. Enfield, London, minus 35%
=6. Hounslow, London, minus 35%
=8. Watford, East of England, minus 33%
=8. Lambeth, London, minus 33%
10. Redbridge, London, minus 32%









Here are the top 10 local authorities with the biggest increases in house sales when comparing the 12 months to June 2016 with the 12 months to May 2019, according to Yorkshire Building Society:
1. Torfaen, Wales, 45%
2. East Lothian, Scotland, 23%
3. Knowsley, North West, 21%
4. Ceredigion, Wales, 20%
5. South Lanarkshire, Scotland, 19%
6. Blaenau Gwent, Wales, 18%
7. Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 17%
8. North Ayrshire, Scotland, 16%
=9. Renfrewshire, Scotland, 15%
=9. Scottish Borders, Scotland, 15%









And here are the changes in house sales across the UK’s regions and nations, comparing the 12 months to June 2016 with the 12 months to May 2019, according to Yorkshire Building Society: 
– North East, 1%
– North West, minus 2%
– Yorkshire and the Humber, minus 1%
– West Midlands, minus 7%
– East Midlands, minus 8%
– East of England, minus 18%
– London, minus 28%
– South East, minus 18%
– South West, minus 13%
– Wales, 2%
– Scotland, 4%
– Northern Ireland, 1%