Buy-to-let activity contracted 13.3% over the last 12 months, which is unsurprising given the raft of tax changes by the government designed to hit buy-to-let landlords in the pocket.
But despite the unprecedented attack on the private rented sector, including the introduction of a 3% stamp duty surcharge on the purchase of buy-to-let homes and the fact that mortgage interest relief will be cut from next year, signs are that private landlords will continue to provide more much needed rental homes across the country, as reflected by a 4.5% month-on-month rise in buy-to-let valuations in October.
The data, provided by Connells Survey and Valuation, shows that despite the annual slowdown in the buy-to-let market, activity levels have picked up in other areas of the housing market, with a notable 6.4% rise in the number of all property valuations compared with the corresponding month last year.
“Total valuation market activity has improved over the course of the last twelve months – despite the attack on the buy-to-let market by the previous chancellor,” said John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation.
“Recently, as landlords have started to come to terms with the stamp duty surcharge and the announcement of the changes to treatment of mortgage interest, the buy-to-let market has started to pick back up,” he added.
Spurred on by competitive deals and record low rates, remortgaging property owners have been particularly busy, as illustrated by a 16.8% year-on-year increase in the volume of remortgage valuations in October, as homeowners locked into attractive deals, according to the research from Connells Survey and Valuation.
Bagshaw continued: “Remortgagers have been one of the most active segments of the market. As rates have fallen over the last twelve months, savvy homeowners have been taking full advantage of the benign borrowing environment and competition between lenders – borrowers can afford to be more selective than they could twelve months ago.
“Homeowners on expensive standard variable rate mortgages are making big savings moving onto the best fixed and discounted rate mortgages around.”
The volume of valuations undertaken on behalf of first-time buyers also increased significantly, up 15.4% compared to October 2015. Similarly, there was a 6% year-on-year increase in the number of valuations for home movers selling property.
Bagshaw added: “The first-time buyer sector has continued to thrive as those looking to get onto the property ladder have taken advantage of various government schemes available.
“The Help-to-Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, which is due to end at the end of the year, has given the first-time buyer market a much needed boost over the past year which is clear from the sizable increase in activity.”