House sales fell by 3% in December, HMRC says

House sales fell by 3% in December, HMRC says

11:13 AM, 24th January 2023, About A year ago

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The latest data on the UK’s house sales from HMRC reveals that numbers dipped by 3% month-on-month in December 2022 with signs that rising mortgage rates impacted transactions.

The figures show that 101,920 homes were sold in December 2022 – which is 1% higher than in December 2021 but 3% lower than in November 2022.

In the notes for the data, HMRC highlights that recent mortgage rate increases may have had an effect.

The report also makes clear that house sales have generally been stable over recent months, but numbers weakened in December.

‘Encouraging indication as to the state of the British property market’

Tomer Aboody, a director of property lender MT Finance, said: “With transactions proving to be relatively consistent over the past year, it is an encouraging indication as to the state of the British property market with buyers still pushing transactions and sales.

“Whereas pricing might be slightly down, and completion times are taking slightly longer, many buyers are still looking to proceed with their purchase in order to take advantage of pre-agreed mortgages with lower rates, secured earlier on in the year.”

He adds: “How transaction levels will look in a couple of months’ time could be very different, however, due to higher mortgage rates and fewer buyers prepared to pull the trigger.”

‘Sales numbers were never going to match the stunning highs of 2021’

Nicky Stevenson, the managing director at national estate agency Fine & Country, said: “Last year’s sales numbers were never going to match the stunning highs of 2021, when a combination of soaring demand and stamp duty holidays sent transactions soaring.

“Yet overall sales volumes for 2022 still finished above 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, despite tailing off slightly in December.”

She added: “Rising mortgage rates overshadowed the property market in the final months of the year and may still hold back transaction levels in the early part of 2023.

“However, there are signs that the housing market is adjusting to the new-normal.”

‘Homebuyers put off purchasing activity’

Emma Cox, the managing director of Real Estate at Shawbrook, said: “It was a silent night for property transactions in December, as homebuyers put off purchasing activity during the festive period.

“While December often sees a slowdown, with prices predicted to continue to fall in the first half of the year, many in the market will be hoping the new year brings with it a renewed burst of activity as buyers look to secure deals.

“Mortgage rates, while still higher than this time last year, are beginning to come down, giving the market a renewed sense of optimism for the year to come.

“Competition will likely remain fierce among investors, many of whom will be looking to add to their portfolios this year, and buyers will need to keep their wits about them when signs of price growth return to the market.”

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