According to new data from Equifax Touchstone, there has been a 26.2% fall in buy-to-let mortgage sales during March. This equates to a £1.04bn drop despite an expected surge of business before the new stamp duty rules kicked in.

The report highlighted that residential sales were up 1.4% on February to £12.95bn, the highest month sales figures since the 2008 market crash. Combined, residential and buy-to-let sales for the intermediated market declined by 5.1% (-£855.7m) on the previous month.

Scotland was the only region to increase its mortgage sales in March while Northern Ireland saw the steepest fall, down by almost 20%. London followed, with a drop of almost 10% in mortgage sales on February.

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 (2015: £179,187), and £157,819  for buy-to-let (2015: £151,753).

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.

The big question from here is, to what extent will the new stamp duty rates discourage investors from entering into new deals? With so much economic uncertainty, 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.”

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