Another way of judging the health of the housing market is to look at transaction volumes, meaning the number of property sales in any given month. A lower number of sales can indicate market uncertainty, which is often triggered by events such as an election or a referendum.
The referendum didn’t seem to have much of an impact on transaction figures. The big spike was caused by the April 2016 introduction of a 3% stamp duty surcharge for buy-to-let investors and people buying second homes, with thousands rushing to buy just before the change came in. After the April transaction crash, numbers slowly crept up again. According to HMRC’s most recent seasonally adjusted figures, there were actually more house sales in December 2018 – 102,330 to be exact – than in the same month the year before (98,760).
What’s the pre-Brexit market like for sellers?
Two commonly used measures of how the market is performing for sellers are stock per branch – which is the average amount of properties on each estate agency’s books – and time to sell. The chart below shows that the time to sell has gone up both month-on-month and year-on-year recently. In December, Rightmove reported that it was taking properties an average of 70 days to go under offer, compared to 67 at the same time in 2017 – and this could be partly due to nervousness around buying a home in the run-up to Brexit. Stock per branch was also up year-on-year, from 43 in December 2017 to 46 in December 2018.