UK house sales stronger than normal in August - Rightmove

LONDON (Reuters) - August, normally a quiet month for Britain’s property market, has seen a surge in sales, possibly due to buyers seeking to conclude transactions before the country leaves the European Union on Oct. 31, property website Rightmove said on Monday.

Rightmove said sales in the August period, which cover the four weeks to Aug. 10, were 6.1% higher than a year earlier and their strongest for the month since 2015, bucking a generally sluggish trend since June 2016’s referendum on leaving the European Union.

“While the end of October Brexit outcome remains uncertain, more buyers are now going for the certainty of doing a deal, with some having perhaps hesitated earlier in the year,” Rightmove director Miles Shipside said.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to take Britain out of the EU by Oct. 31, even if that means leaving without a transition deal - something most economists think will cause major disruption to businesses and overseas trade.

But British consumers have largely shrugged off Brexit worries so far, bolstered by a strong labour market and the fastest increases in wages in 11 years, in contrast to businesses, which have held back from making major investments.

House price inflation has slowed since June 2016, according to official figures. But this has largely been driven by price falls in London and surrounding areas, which have been most affected by higher property taxes on expensive housing and fears of post-Brexit job losses in the financial services sector.