February sees the lowest property sales in a decade

February sees the lowest property sales in a decade

10:44 AM, 21st March 2023, About A year ago

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Data published by HMRC show that non-seasonally adjusted property sales were up 2% from January, to 76,920 in February – but this is down nearly a fifth from last year (18%).

However, the seasonally adjusted figures show that things look even worse as transactions are down 18% in a year and 4% since January.

That’s the slowest February for property sales in a decade.

‘Mini-Budget misery crashed property sales’

Sarah Coles, the head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Mini-Budget misery crashed property sales at the start of this year.

“They plummeted in January, and on a seasonally adjusted basis, they fell again in February. They’re the worst February figures in a decade.

“However, we don’t yet know whether this is a brief and brutal shock or the beginning of a miserable period for the property market.”

‘We’re not expecting things to pick up’

She added: “We’re not expecting things to pick up much in the next couple of months.

“Earlier this month, the RICS residential market survey charted its tenth month of falling buyer numbers, and eighth month of falling agreed sales.

“It also said that sales are now taking almost 19 weeks, as recalcitrant buyers drag their feet.

“Because of the lag in the market, this is likely to mean depressed completions through the spring and into the summer.”

‘Housing market is proving to be resilient’

Iain McKenzie, the chief executive of The Guild of Property Professionals, said: “The housing market is proving to be resilient in the face of political and economic instability, showing only a modest decline from month to month.

“The annual picture shows a greater drop-off, but don’t forget the scenes we were seeing this time last year, when buyers were scrambling for properties and there was a shortage of stock in almost every part of the country.

“Estate agents are now taking the chance to get more properties on their books and are able to give buyers more choice.”

He adds: “House prices are holding steady and defying the forecasts we faced at the end of last year.”

‘Fewer sellers entering the market’

Matthew Thompson, Chestertons’ head of sales, said: “Whilst buyers remained undeterred in February, there were fewer sellers entering the market.

“This is leading to a limited number of properties being put up for sale in March and April, leaving many house hunters frustrated.”

He went on: “The capital continues to experience a chronic undersupply of suitable housing; particularly as demand has remained strong since the start of 2023 with more buyers booking in viewings.

“The number of offers being withdrawn has also decreased by 11% which indicates that there are currently fewer window shoppers and more serious buyers entering the market.”

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