This month’s My Property Consultant Property Index Tracker is showing a flurry of activity across most measures, which I guess shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The increase across the indices is largely down to landlords rushing to complete their property purchases ahead of the April hike in stamp duty, resulting in a sharp increase in mortgage approvals, and property transactions.
For example, The Bank of England Mortgage Approval Rate Index has seen an increase of 19% compared with 12 months ago. And although the Council for Mortgage Lenders data will not be released until 19th May, they have already estimated that £25.7bn worth of mortgages were completed during March, a 43% increase on February, and a 59% increase on the same time last year. The HMRC Property Transactions Index is also showing a massive increase of 77% compared to this time last year, and 71% higher than in February.
While none of this data is particularly surprising, what I think will be far more interesting is what will happen next quarter and, in particular, how this will be depicted in the press.
As we head towards the EU Referendum, and the likelihood that markets will continue to behave nervously, we could well see a softening of the property market. Weaker data will naturally be reported in contrast to the strong results we have seen in March and April, no doubt giving rise to some doom-and-gloom “property market crash” headlines that are guaranteed to make anyone considering property investment a little nervous.
The reason I find this interesting is that, arguably, this could present would-be landlords with a golden opportunity. Dramatic headlines in the press warning of house price ‘boom and bust’, are almost guaranteed to send sellers into a tail spin, meaning they may feel compelled to accept offers they would otherwise have declined a few months ago. Especially as we head towards the summer months. At the same time, with a weaker Pound, we could also see increased interest from overseas landlords.
So if the Chancellor’s game plan was to stifle the buy-to-let market, he could be in for a surprise. The ‘false peak’ that has been created by the change in stamp duty for landlords could, ironically, play into their hands for the short term at least. I’m sure if this happens the irony will not be lost on Mr Osborne.
Click here to view the My Property Consultant Property Index Tracker: http://myproperty-consultant.london/property-index-tracker/april16/