Last month, the housing market was faltering under the strain of the government’s indecision over stamp duty, combined with the usual holiday slowdown and the overcast economy.

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Research from the National Association of Estate Agents reveals a slight decrease in the number of houses available for sale, agreed sales and percentage of first-time buyers for the month of August.
 
‘August was a tough month for the industry, both for the consumer and the estate agent. It was a month of indecision, and this evidently has had a profound effect on the market, as many consumers adopted a “wait and see” attitude while waiting for a decision from the government on stamp duty,’ says Chris Brown, the NAEA’s president.
 
Of the member agents polled, 92% agreed that the Chancellor’s remark about possibly reducting Stamp Duty had increased consumer concerns.
 
In a second poll carried out at the end of the month, 98% of agents felt that consumer confidence was further damaged as speculation rose.
 
‘However, now that a decision has been made, it is a positive push in the right direction,’ adds Mr Brown, ‘but the Stamp Duty announcement is not enough to make a difference to the entire market.’
 
In addition, ‘the government needs to do more to address the problems in the market if anything is to change and improvements made. The NAEA continues to urge the government to offer first-time buyers a Stamp Duty holiday.’
 
Although the NAEA reports a further drop in sales, on average, 8.3% compared to 10.7% in July, there is some positive news. The number of house-hunters is on the increase, with applicants on agents’ books rising from an average of 192 per agent in July to 207 in August.
 
These encouraging results indicate there still are buyers out there who are keen to move, the report suggests. However, prospective purchasers are not rushing into a sale.
 
‘They are looking at all the available options on the market before committing to a decision,’ says the study.
 
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