There has been a significant drop in the proportion of annual sales to buy-to-let landlords as measured by Hamptons International.
The estate agent, which has been collating data on landlord purchases, including cash buyers as well as those buying with a mortgage, since 2010, reports that the proportion of homes acquired by landlords has fallen to an all-time low as a combination of COVID-19 and tax changes deter people from investing the buy-to-let market.
After Boris Johnson's decisive general election victory in December, buy-to-let investors bought almost one in five - 18% - of the residential properties sold in Britain, which is the highest level since February 2016 when they were rushing to purchase homes before the 3% stamp duty surcharge on additional properties was introduced.
But since then the share of properties purchased by landlords has dropped sharply, hitting a record low of 8% last month.
In London, just 4% of all residential sales last month were to landlords, down from 14% in March 2019.
The figures also reveal that landlord sales have dropped from 15% in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 8% in the first quarter of this year.
Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, said: “We started to see landlords pull away from the market in February — maybe they got a surprise when they filed their tax returns in January. This is now being combined with uncertainty from the coronavirus and fears over how this might affect them as self-employed or small businesses.
“People expect property prices to fall, and rents to fall or level off; also there are not many properties on the market in March— and perhaps fewer suitable for landlords than others.”