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Homes sales held firm over the summer

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

Sales of homes in August remained robust, reflecting strong demand in the spring, but rising living costs are starting to have an impact on buyer confidence

Home sales in August hit 114,440, 9.7% higher than the same time last year and 4.4% higher than this July.

The housing market has defied the wider economy throughout the pandemic, remaining strong and steady in recent months. In fact, residential transactions are above those recorded pre-pandemic in August 2019, when there were 111,600 sales.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the latest data: “House sales held up in August, as the usual seasonal rush endured, despite dwindling supplies and rising pressures on buyers. However, concerns for the future continue to mount.

“Sales completing in August were largely agreed in April and May, when the pain of energy price rises was already being felt. On the one hand, this is a clear indication that those who have enough cash to see them through this crisis are still prepared to dig deep for property.

“On the other, it’s still early days. We know that demand only really started to fall from May when people had time to adjust to their new outgoings, and reconsider a move up the property ladder. At the same point, agents started to report that buyers were getting increasingly cautious, so we can expect some of this to show in the figures as we move into the autumn.”

Rob Gill, founder mortgage broker, Altura Mortgage Finance, was more bullish. He said: “Our transaction levels in August were the highest of the year so far, a very unusual scenario indeed. Rocketing mortgage rates seem to have persuaded mortgage borrowers to interrupt their holidays and get on with securing a mortgage deal, whether it be for a purchase that might otherwise be out of reach or a remortgage that could help offset other rising living costs.

“There’s no sign of this trend slowing down, especially with the Bank of England tipped to hike the base rate significantly again in September.”