January sees dramatic monthly fall in transaction figures

By: ameer@trustedteam.com

This means transactions were 7% lower on an annual basis and, compared to December 2022, marks a 27% drop off.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, HMRC calculates there were 96,650 residential transactions in the first month of 2023 – an 11% annual drop and a monthly fall of 3%.

The non-residential transaction number on a non-seasonally adjusted basis count, meanwhile, come to 8,500 in January, which is a 1% annual fall and 18% down on December 2022.

And on a seasonally-adjusted basis, HMRC says there were 9,760 non-residential transactions – 6% lower than January 2022’s number and 3% more than were registered in December 2022.

Yopa chief analyst Mike Scott comments: “[These figures] suggest that last autumn’s financial turmoil has not yet had much effect on home sales, just bringing the number down to a more normal level.

“We do expect that the number of completed sales will dip further in the coming months, but then start to recover from the middle of the year, and that 2023 as a whole will see only slightly fewer sales than the 1.2 million that we would expect in a normal housing market.

“This in turn suggests that house prices will follow a similar curve, with a modest dip in the first half of the year followed by a modest recovery in the second half, ending the year little changed on the previous year.”

And Hargreaves Lansdown head of personal finance Sarah Coles says: “We saw the slowest January in ten years, as the impact of the mini-Budget fed through into sales figures. And while there’s some lingering optimism that lower mortgages may tempt some buyers back, the heady days of the peak – where at one point we saw more than 214,000 transactions in a month – are well and truly behind us.

“This end of the year is always pretty slow, but this January, property sales moved at a glacial pace, and they’re unlikely to gain much more momentum for some time to come. The Rics residential market survey has charted seven months of falling numbers of agreed sales – since June – and while the pace of the decent slowed in January, it’s still heading south.

“It is taking around three and a half months for agreed sales to translate into completed ones, so even if buyers have been buoyed by falling mortgage rates in the past few weeks, we’re not going to see any evidence of this until the spring. Even then, it’s going to be a far cry from the hectic flurry of sales we have grown increasingly used to.”

Garrington Property Finders chief executive Jonathan Hopper adds: “Even factoring in a healthy pinch of salt for the non-seasonally adjusted figures, the 27% drop in home sales between December and January is sobering.

“The seasonally adjusted month-on-month decrease of 3% is more modest, but nevertheless sales in January were more than a tenth lower than they were at the same time last year.

“By contrast, falling prices have been slower to feed through into completed sales. Land Registry data shows the average price paid for a home in the UK dipped by a modest 0.2% in December.

“While further price softening is likely in 2023, the tumbleweed months at the end of last year that led to January’s sharp fall in completed sales are thankfully past.

“With mortgage rates settling down and inflation cooling slowly, buyers are steadily returning to the market.

“Granted, most of them are in the ‘need to move’ rather than the ‘want to move’ camp, but sentiment is improving and the market is slowly becoming more free flowing. A spring bounce no longer just looks possible; in some areas it’s even becoming likely.”

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