Average monthly transactions lag behind pre-COVID levels

Jessica Bird

December 2, 2021

mortgage products drop

Despite strong levels of market activity, the average monthly number of property sales across Britain was still -15.4% lower compared with pre-COVID levels, according to analysis of government transaction data by Barrows and Forrester.

An average of 83,778 transactions were completed per month between 2016 and 2019, but since the start of 2020, this has fallen to an average of 70,856 transactions per month.

The difference was found to be greatest across Wales, where average monthly transaction levels since the start of 2020 have sat 23.8% below pre-pandemic levels.

The West Midlands also saw one of the biggest declines, with 22.1% fewer property sales per month, followed by the East Midlands (-21.3%), North West (-19.4%) and North East (-3.7%).

Scotland has seen the market bounce back to pre-pandemic levels to the greatest extent, as 8,265 property sales have taken place per month since the start of 2020, just 2.1% below the levels seen prior to the pandemic.

Scotland has seen a greater number of property sales per month in 2021 (9,221) when compared to pre-pandemic levels (8,439).

The South East (-11.1%) and London (-12.8%) were also home to levels of current market activity closest to that seen prior to 2020.

Nevertheless, all but one area of Britain – the North East – has seen an increase in the average number of monthly transactions when comparing 2020 and 2021.

James Forrester, managing director of Barrows and Forrester, said: “There’s no denying that the property market is in very good health at present and a world away from the widespread doom and gloom predictions that many were quick to make during the first half of 2020.

“But despite the overwhelming levels of demand spurred by the introduction of the stamp duty holiday, we’re yet to see a full return to form where transaction levels are concerned.

“That said, we’ve had to overcome a myriad of obstacles during the pandemic.

“An early industry lockdown that saw the market grind to a half for over a month, the requirement to work from home followed by new COVID protocols while in the workplace and the addition of lengthy market delays at the back end of the transaction process, which caused transactions to drag out for a considerably longer period of time.

“All of these factors have proved problematic. So while there is still some work to do, the outlook is extremely positive and not discounting the current threat of the Omicron variant, we transaction levels should return to pre-COVID levels in 2022.”

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