HMRC records December dip in property sales

Property sales fell for the fourth consecutive month with a dip in December and ended the year at 1.02m, HMRC data suggests.

The latest property transaction data from the taxman shows there were 85,920 residential sales on a non-seasonally adjusted basis during December, down 20% annually and a 2% decline since November 2023.

The provisional non-seasonally adjusted for the month was 85,820, 20% lower than December 2022 and 2% lower than a month before.

It takes completed transactions for the year to 1.02m, according to Savills, 15% below the 2017-19 average, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The agent said it was in part because of issues with conveyancing systems which caused some delays.

The agent added that general improvements in activity seen in the final few months of last year look to have carried forward into 2024.

Frances McDonald, director of research at Savills, said:

“The latest transactions data highlights a relative slowdown in activity in December.

“More than 40% of these transactions were to cash buyers, far higher than the average 35% before the pandemic, and reiterates that activity continues to be supported by cash and equity-rich buyers, in particular.

“But as mortgage rates continue to ease, we expect the market to rebalance back to debt-dependent buyers.

“The latest data reveals that mortgage approvals hit their highest level in six months in December.

“While TwentyCi data for January 2024 also show signs of optimism.

“Agreed sales were 18% above 2023 levels for the month and within 2% of the 2017-19 average.

Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, added:

“If last year was characterised by greater supply and tentative buyer appetite, the cautious hope is that 2024 will shepherd in a period of greater steadiness and predictability.

“Buoyed by falling inflation and competitive mortgage rates, a strong response from buyers to renew their searches and push forward with completions should also encourage sellers to return their properties to the market at realistic guide prices.

“Across the Jackson-Stops network in December we saw a notable uptick in the number of prospective buyers for new listings in the commuter belt around Reigate, Newmarket and Colchester, as well as in popular rural and seaside areas such as Blandford Forum, Truro and Taunton.

“This month-on-month swing shows that regional revivals can quickly emerge despite a more subdued national market.

“Pre-election promises are likely to dominate news headlines and see the major parties go head-to-head on divisive issues such as housebuilding, home ownership, rental legislation and green homes.

“However, any changes in property market conditions are much more likely to be determined by the persistent imbalances between supply and demand, which has outlasted the current Government and will leave a major headache for the next one.”


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