A key part of Britain's housing market is cooling rapidly

LONDON — The number of properties sold to buy-to-let (BTL) landlords fell sharply in April as recent changes to taxation on second homes continue to bite.

According to new data from estate agents Connells released overnight on Thursday and reported by the Financial Times, the percentage of new valuations of properties being done for buy-to-let purposes was just 7% in total in April 2017.

That compares with the five-year average for the month of April, which stands at 13%.

The fall in interest in the buy-to-let market has largely been driven by a series of changes to property taxes that were effectively designed to slow BTL’s rapid growth. A 3% stamp duty surcharge now applies to all purchases of second homes, while tax relief on mortgage interest is also being cut in the coming years, making BTL

“Over the last year, buy-to-let valuations have made up less than 10 per cent of market activity, representing a new low in April. This could suggest that smaller, private landlords, who typically use buy-to-let mortgages, have not been investing on the same scale as previously seen,” the report from Connells said.

“The government’s anti-landlord policies have been hitting smaller players. Over the last year, buy to let valuations have made up less than 10 per cent of market activity, representing a new low in April,” John Bagshaw, the corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation said.

“Buy-to-let used to be seen as a viable way to gain additional income or to fund retirements, but the gradual removal of buy to let mortgage tax relief will make it much harder for the man on the street to invest.”

Spiralling sales of properties in the buy-to-let space have been a big concern for British policymakers in recent years, and until the Brexit vote last summer, the market and its potential to overheat was one of the biggest concerns on the Bank of England’s radar.

That was largely down to the laxer standards for giving BTL purchases, which are generally done with special buy-to-let mortgages that are not subject to the same kind of affordability tests as regular ones. Buy-to-let mortgages are generally based more on rental income in areas than the buyer’s means.

NOW WATCH: WATCH! This week’s episode of The Bottom Line with Henry Blodget

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.