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Article 50 has finally been triggered, paving the way for Britain to leave the European Union. Jeremy Leaf, the principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told The Sun: ‘The housing market has held up much better than everyone feared but the undercurrents of uncertainty are still there with transactions steadily falling since the vote. Inevitably this is having an impact on the market with prices softening, particularly in London which has also been affected by the increases in stamp duty and unsustainably high prices for a long time.’

First-time buyers are driving up demand but activity among home movers and buy-to-let investors is falling, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Jeremy Leaf explained to What Mortgage: ‘Gross mortgage lending held up well in February but if you drill down and look at the figures in more detail, you get a clearer picture of what is actually happening on the ground. Of particular note is that first-time buyers are taking advantage of more friendly purchasing conditions and in some cases taking the place of buy-to-let investors who have been squeezed by tighter tax and operational restrictions.’ Contemplating the next few months, Jeremy Leaf told The Times: ‘Looking forward the spring market is already showing signs of some improvement from the rather dull conditions prevailing in the first few months of the year but once again it is only those buyers and sellers who are prepared to be realistic who are making transactions happen.’ 

Spring is peak season for property hunters and the ideal time to display your home to best effect. Commenting in The Sunday Express, Jeremy Leaf said: ‘The sun is out, homes look more attractive and buyers are out in force as they look to make a fresh start.’ Ask two or three agents for an opinion as to the asking price but don’t plump for the highest: ‘If you get too greedy your house could hang around for a long time, forcing you to slash the price to make a sale,’ adds Leaf. You should also compare agents’ fees carefully: ‘A good agent should earn their fees by getting you the best possible price on your property,’ he adds.

The Halifax reported that house prices edged up 0.1 per cent month-on-month in February, while Nationwide reported that house prices rose 0.6 per cent after an increase of 0.2 per cent in January. Jeremy Leaf told Your Money: ‘These figures are interesting as they slightly conflict each other although both show a housing market which is broadly stable with prices continuing to be supported by a lack of supply and low interest rates. This reflects what we are finding on the ground. Looking forward, activity does seem to have picked up a little since the slow start to the year.’ Also commenting in This is Money, Jeremy Leaf added: ‘At the coalface we see these numbers, as well as concerns about rising inflation, translating into more caution, longer transaction times and hard bargaining but an improving confidence about getting deals done.’