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Housing market ‘on a steady course’ following sales bounce-back nationwide

The UK housing market is ‘on a steady course’ following the latest sales data from HMRC, with first-time buyer activity increasing in Q1 of 2018.

HMRC’s UK Property Transaction Statistics for February shows 83,230 sales on a non-seasonally adjusted basis – a 2% increase on the month previous.

England enjoyed a 3% sales boost to 72,140, with property sales in Wales also up 1.8% to 3,790. The biggest jump came in Northern Ireland which saw a 14% increase to 1,950. Scotland was the only UK region to see a decrease, recording a slight 0.3% fall on a monthly basis to just over 101,000.

“The market will continue to perform”

Brian Murphy, head of lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “What we can interpret from the statistics is that the housing market is continuing on a steady course, with transaction numbers broadly unchanged on the previous month and only very slightly reduced on the same time last year.

Read more: Which town saw the biggest house price growth in 2017?

“This underscores industry forecasts that the market will continue to perform at the same level this year with a relatively steady number of transactions at a topline level, although the mix of buyers is changing as we see fewer investors, but the slack being picked up at entry level by first-time buyers.”

housing market 2018

Murphy went on to highlight how individual city housing markets have exceeded expectations already this year, helping to boost the overall national picture.

“Having said that, as we continue to see a diverging regional picture with some areas experiencing a significant upturn in buyer activity, this overall trend masks the fact that some towns and cities have seen higher than anticipated levels of buyer activity in the first two months of this year.

“This ‘two-tier’ market is, therefore, propping up the more subdued levels of activity in London and the south-east, a reversal of what we’ve seen in previous years, and potentially an indicator of what we may see over the course of the next few months.”

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Haart estate agents also reported that buyer demand surged by 20% in February as viewings in the capital also increased by 15%.