|18 November, 2019

Double-whammy of Brexit and election hits UK housing market - survey

There were 14.9% fewer properties put on sale in the four weeks to Nov. 9 than in the same period last year

A man walks past houses painted in various colours in a residential street in London, Britain, May 15, 2019.

A man walks past houses painted in various colours in a residential street in London, Britain, May 15, 2019.

REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON - The number of properties put up for sale in Britain has fallen by the most in any month in more than 10 years as the combination of Brexit and an election weighs on the market, a survey showed on Monday.

There were 14.9% fewer properties put on sale in the four weeks to Nov. 9 than in the same period last year, property website Rightmove said.

That was the biggest annual fall since August 2009, shortly after the global financial crisis.

"I've seen lots of unusual events affecting the property market in my 40-year career, but a Brexit deadline followed by a snap general election six weeks later is obviously a new combination," Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called a Dec. 12 election in a bid to break a deadlock in parliament over his plan for taking Britain out of the European Union, the deadline for which has been delayed until Jan. 31 from Oct. 31.

Rightmove said some would-be sellers of property might be waiting to see if Britain's next government reforms the stamp duty tax on property transactions which might reduce the cost of acquiring a new home.

The average price of property coming to market rose by an annual 0.3%, in line with other measures showing house prices almost flat-lining, and the number of sales agreed was down by 2.9%, Rightmove said.

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Daniel Wallis) ((william.schomberg@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 7778; Reuters Messaging: william.schomberg.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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