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March saw shock slump in buy-to-let sales

March saw a significant slump in buy-to-let activity with sales falling 26.2% compared to February.

The fall of £1.04 billion came despite an expected last-minute rise ahead of the stamp duty rate increase on 1 April 2016.

By contrast, residential sales were up 1.4% on February to £12.95 billion, the highest month sales figures since the 2008 market crash.


Combined, residential and buy-to-let sales for the intermediated market fell by 5.1% on February, or £855.7 million.

The data from Equifax Touchstone, which covers 92% of the intermediated lending market, shows that the average value of a residential mortgage in March was £190,091, up from £179,187 in 2015.

For buy-to-let the average was £157,819, up from £151,753 in 2015.

Iain Hill, relationship manager, Equifax Touchstone, said: “Recent buy-to-let mortgage flows indicate that borrowers took the advice of their lenders, and initiated transactions in good time to avoid an eleventh-hour panic.”

Hill said that property remains an attractive investment option for many people. “Given the rollercoaster first quarter of 2016, it will be interesting to see where sales trends go from here.”

Pete Mugleston, director of Online Mortgage Advisor, said the decline followed “a mad completions rush” caused by the stamp duty surcharge.

“At the end of any rush there is sure to be a lull, and this is what we’re seeing now. I don’t see any reason for panic.”


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