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HomeBusinessMoneyHouse sales down by 10.6% in January compared with a year earlier

House sales down by 10.6% in January compared with a year earlier

The number of house sales taking place in January was around 10% lower than a year earlier, according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Across the UK, an estimated 106,990 transactions took place, which was 10.6% lower than in January 2021 but 5.1% higher than December 2021.

A temporary stamp duty holiday was in place last year, ending completely from the start of October.

The January chill hit the property market

Sarah Coles, Hargreaves Lansdown

Some experts have suggested transactions were brought forward last year which might otherwise have taken place this year, so that buyers could make the most of the tax savings.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The January chill hit the property market, rapidly cooling buyer enthusiasm, and freezing sales.

“It takes 16 weeks from listing a property to completing a sale at the moment, so the drop in sales reflected a glacial October, facing the chilling impact of interest rate speculation and the stamp duty holiday finally dwindling away to nothing.”

Earlier this week, property website Rightmove reported that house asking prices jumped in February by the biggest cash amount it has recorded in more than 20 years of reporting.

A real shortage of properties on the market is continuing to fuel higher prices

Tomer Aboody, MT Finance

Rightmove said asking prices across Britain increased by £7,785 on average in February to hit a new record high of £348,804.

Property group Savills also released research on Monday indicating that nine in 10 (90%) people looking to buy a home believe a lack of available housing is negatively affecting their ability to make a purchase.

A lack of homes for buyers to choose from has been cited as one of the factors pushing up house prices.

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “A real shortage of properties on the market is continuing to fuel higher prices, with multiple buyers per property on many occasions.

“This time last year, buyers had the stamp duty holiday to spur them on; now there are fewer sellers brave enough to put their properties on the market as they are fearful that they will not be able to buy themselves.

“Many are selling up and moving into rented accommodation in order to put themselves in the strongest position by being cash buyers, which in turn is also pushing up rents.”

If they can find a suitable property, buyers may however find it easier to find out the essentials about it up-front.

National Trading Standards announced this week that a property’s council tax band or rate and tenure information for sales must be included on property listings along with the house price.

The body, which has been working with property portals and others in the property industry, said information should be included by the end of May or be flagged as absent.

Experts suggested that having more transparent information could help reduce cases of house sales falling through, in turn helping buyers to avoid wasting their cash. It could also help to speed up sales, it has been suggested.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of mortgage broker Coreco said: “There are many red flags ahead in 2022, especially with rising interest rates and soaring inflation, but borrowing rates remain exceptionally low and rents are soaring.”

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