Highest December activity for three years
It showed that despite a fall in monthly UK house sales of 26.7% in December compared to November – in line with the historic trend of a significant dip in house sales activity at the year end – the number of sales agreed in December were up 8.2% on December 2009 and 56.5% greater than December 2008. Encouragingly, December house sales were 32% up on January’s, meaning the end of 2010 was much healthier than the beginning.
It was a similar story for the number of properties being put up for sale. Although there was a 41.3% decrease in December compared to November – the fourth consecutive monthly fall – this was in line with what has usually occurred in previous years but still 22.5% higher than December 2009 and 37.1% better than December 2008.
Stephen Watson, managing director, Agency Express, said: “2010 has certainly been a fascinating year for house sales activity. So many factors have had an effect on home owner and house buyer sentiment that it’s difficult to draw too many firm conclusions about what 2011 will bring.
“However, the contraction in supply of houses on the market could mean that there will be a stabilisation of house prices after the recent falls that may lead to renewed confidence returning to the market. With the impacts of the Government’s austerity measures still to be fully felt in the economy, the increase in VAT and the expected continuation of very low interest rates, 2011 will undoubtedly be another interesting year for the property and mortgage markets.
“January has traditionally seen a significant uplift in properties being put on the market so we will be closely monitoring the findings of our Index for signs of evidence of an increase in activity over the next few weeks.”
The North East, Wales and Central England fared best in December for house sales with falls of 13.0%, 18.8% and 19.6% respectively. The worst hit regions were Scotland down 36.6%, Yorkshire down 35.2% and the South East down 30.7%.
Milton Keynes was the only UK city not to see a fall in the number of sales agreed in December, seeing the same level as November’s. Nottingham only experienced a 4.2% drop with Exeter seeing a 4.4% decrease. At the other end of the scale Coventry had the worst monthly decline in the number of house sales at 53.3%. Glasgow saw a drop of 43.7% and York had a 42.5% fall.
In terms of new properties coming onto the market there was a pretty consistent contraction across all regions. The West Midlands saw a 33.9% decrease with the East Midlands having the worst drop of 51.9%.
Of the UK cities, Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds held up the best with declines of 20.0%, 22.1% and 25.3% respectively. Newcastle saw the most striking fall in the number of properties being put up ‘For Sale’ with a 59.1% fall with Glasgow -55.8% and York 52.4% not far behind.