Housing market in the grip of ‘endemic’ transaction crisis as six in 10 local authorities see a drop in sales
- Just 133 of 374 local authority areas saw a rise in house sales last year
- The country saw an overall drop in property transactions of 2.3 per cent
- Some areas, such as Stevenage, saw sales drop by up to 27.5 per cent
The UK’s housing market is in the grip of an ‘endemic’ transaction crisis with sales slumping in six out of 10 markets, This is Money can reveal.
Analysis of the latest Land Registry data by modular homebuilder Project Etopia found that sales improved in just 35.6 per cent of local authorities last year, despite rock bottom mortgage rates and first-time buyer schemes like Help to Buy.
Sales dropped in 64.4 per cent of markets, leading to an overall drop in transactions of 2.3 per cent. The 133 local authorities that saw transactions rise saw sales increase by 3.5 per cent on average.
A total of 241 of 374 local authorities saw housing sales drop by an average 2.3 per cent in 2018
The worst falls were experienced in Stevenage, which saw a 27.5 per cent drop in housing sales, Newcastle-under-Lyme which saw a 16.2 per cent drop, and Cambridge which saw a drop of 16 per cent.
Among the areas that saw falls in sales, the average decline was 4.9 per cent.
A total of 122 areas have seen transactions fall by more than 5 per cent, while 41 local authorities witnessed sales drop by more than 10 per cent and 11 areas more than 15 per cent.
Greater London has been deeply affected. Tower Hamlets and Croydon are among the worst affected areas of the capital, with transaction levels dropping 22.5 per cent and 15.4 per cent respectively.
Joseph Daniels, chief executive of Project Etopia, said: ‘It might not be immediately obvious what transaction levels have to do with the housing crisis, but the answer is a great deal. Lack of housing stock means we’re on a merry-go-round of gyrating house prices in this country.
A total of 122 local authority areas have seen housing transactions fall by more than 5 per cent
‘This feeds into massive price gains that occur over just a few years, causing people to think of their house as an investment not a home. When storm clouds gather on the horizon they then guard their most valuable possession by sitting tight.’
The City of London saw the biggest increase of any local authority area in England and Wales but was starting from a low base. It saw sales rise 66 per cent, but in reality only 146 properties changed hands in eight months.
The best performing towns or cities outside London were Chorley at 17 per cent, Hull at 13.9 per cent and Lincoln at 12.3 per cent.
‘It’s easy to forget that there were 231,690 fewer homes sold in the last financial year than a decade earlier,’ Daniels added.
‘If we had more stock, this boom and bust would be a thing of the past and the sands wouldn’t keep shifting under developers’ feet.’
In November This is Money revealed that local councils have fallen over six years behind their own house building targets.
|Chorley||17 per cent|
|Hull||13.9 per cent|
|Lincoln||12.3 per cent|
|Liverpool||10.8 per cent|
|Rochdale||9.4 per cent|
|Worcester||8.4 per cent|
|Carlisle||8.2 per cent|
|Tewkesbury||7.8 per cent|
|Mansfield||7.4 per cent|
|Stafford||7.1 per cent|
But it’s not just the lack of available housing that’s slowing the market. According to trade body NAEA Propertymark, the number of house hunters has dropped dramatically in the run up to Brexit.
According to the most recently available figures, the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch fell to 282 in November, the lowest number for the month since 2012.
The supply of available houses also fell by 13 per cent for the second consecutive month, dropping from an average of 40 in October, to 35 per branch.
The number of properties sold to first-time buyers remained at 23 per cent in November for the second month running, increasing from 20 per cent in August and 22 per cent in September.
However, year on year, the number the of sales made to the group are down from 27 per cent.
Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark, said: ‘We usually see a seasonal slow-down, but it’s unlikely that the time of year is the sole cause of today’s market conditions.
‘It’s likely that this year we’ll just see people holding off until there’s some clarity around what the Brexit deal might look like and what it will mean for the economy.’