Regional residential land Q2 2017

So far in 2017, the housing market has not been as strong than in previous years, with sales activity particularly muted. The good news is that first time buyers continue to be boosted by various Government initiatives and are at their highest level since 2008.

Data from the Bank of England shows that lending remains broadly stable relative to 2016. In the most recent three month period (March to May) mortgage approvals were down marginally by 3% compared with the same period of 2016. However, in terms of actual transactions, Land Registry records a more pronounced fall, with sales volumes in the first two months of the year down 15% compared with the same period of 2016. Activity in the housing market is largely being driven by first-time buyers.

There are a number of government housing schemes helping to boost first-time buyer numbers and over the last year, the number of first-time buyers reached 345,000, the highest since the start of 2008. In contrast, home mover numbers have been subdued for some time now, and it is the first time since 1996 that first-time buyer numbers have exceeded movers. A low number of home movers means that fewer properties come up for sale (which perversely can push up prices). Since the stamp duty change for second properties last April, first-time buyer numbers are the only component of transactions that has grown consistently. Buy to Let properties have been particularly impacted and the number of sales have halved.