Buy to let property purchase data would suggest landlords are pulling out of the market.

In the first six months of this year, buy to let purchases were £12.1 billion, down a third by £5.2 billion compared to £17.3 billion in the same period of 2015.

The spend was the lowest since the first half of 2013, when investors purchased property worth £11.2 billion.

The peak was the first six months of 2016, when landlords spent £21.2 billion on new property in the lead up to the government imposing a 3% stamp duty surcharge on the market.

The figures from property consultancy Hamptons International also reveal 61% of landlords living in London preferred to buy investment homes outside the capital, more than double the 2015 figure of 25%.

While property purchases have dropped, buy to let rents have steadily increased.

The firm says the average UK rent is £980 a month, up 1.6% in the 12 months to September.

Aneisha Beveridge, Head of Research, Hamptons International, said:

“The total value of homes purchased by landlords has fallen by over £5 billion in just three years.

“This is due to landlords buying fewer buy-to-lets and investors spending less on the homes they do buy.  With two out of five London based landlords looking outside the capital to buy their investments in search of higher yields and lower stamp duty bills, the average price of a home bought as a buy-to-let has fallen by 7% since 2016.

““Rental growth continues to gradually pick up.  Rents rose in every region for the first time since January.  London rents returned to growth for the first time in four months, fuelled by a pickup in Inner London.”

The average price of buy to let homes fell to £174,580 in the first half of 2018, 4% less than last year (£181,260) and 7% less than in 2016 (£188,220).