Property sales have fallen by a third in Stevenage this year, reflecting a downward trend across Hertfordshire.

8,592 homes were sold in Herts up to the end of July – down 13 per cent on the same seven months in 2017.

Just 537 properties were sold in Stevenage during this period, a 34 per cent fall.

In North Herts there was a 20 per cent drop, with 946 properties sold - compared to 704 (16 per cent) in Welwyn Hatfield and 1,102 (8 per cent) in St Albans.

UK-wide, sales were lower in each month to July than in the corresponding month in 2017, and were down by 9 per cent in total.

Political uncertainty is being blamed for putting off potential buyers, while the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said that constraints on affordability have also affected buyers, following significant rises in the cost of properties in recent years.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “Uncertainty about the economic outlook on the back of the never-ending Brexit negotiations has become an increasing drag on transaction activity in the housing market.

“The mood music amongst buyers has also been impacted by affordability constraints as hefty price gains over recent years have pushed ever higher the size of required deposits.”

The Government has encouraged the building of new homes to help deal with the housing supply shortage, with an aim of developing 300,000 new properties a year nationwide.

It has also encouraged first-time buyers to purchase new builds. The Help to Buy scheme offers favourable saving rates for first-time purchasers, and equity loans or shared ownership schemes at the time of purchase.

But between January and July, just 677 new homes were sold in Hertfordshire, 36 per cent fewer than in the same period last year.

Second-hand property sales also decreased by 10 per cent to 7,915.

Mr Rubinsohn said: “The Government’s Help to Buy scheme has provided some support for the new build sector but this has left the second-hand segment even more exposed.

“On top of this, a lack of stock for the sale in this part of this market has compounded the problem. Existing home-owners are staying put for longer meaning there is less property available for prospective purchasers to view.

“Meanwhile, in the background is the concern that the cost of mortgage finance is likely in due course to become dearer.”