“While there was a very slight dip in transaction volumes between January and February, today’s figures still make for encouraging reading. After January, February recorded the highest number of seasonally adjusted residential transactions since the changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax were introduced at the end of March last year, suggesting that the market is starting to come to terms with this new normal. While transactions levels remain lower than they were a year ago, it is important that this is examined in the context of an extremely busy first quarter in 2016, in which investors trying to beat the changes drove a huge amount of activity.
“This stability is a testament to the market’s strong fundamentals, and activity will be supported as long as demand continues to outstrip supply. There are undoubtedly challenges ahead for the housing market, with both the triggering of Article 50 and the changes to landlords’ tax relief looming large on the horizon. However, the housing market has shown that it is more than robust enough to overcome these obstacles.
“In the long-term, demand for both rented and owner-occupied accommodation will support prices and sales volumes. While it is always good to see healthy transaction levels, people are rightly concerned about first-time buyers’ prospects. With prices continuing to rise faster than wages, there is a risk that those without access to gifted deposits will find themselves excluded from the market.”