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Robust property sales figures belie slowing housing market

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

October transaction figures may be strong, but they represent home sales long agreed before the disastrous mini-Budget

UK residential transactions in October 2022 totalled 110,850, 29% higher than October 2021 and 3% lower than September 2022.

These robust figures might paint a picture of a strong housing market, but they represent sales that completed in October, and therefore sales agreed a few months earlier. Importantly, they show the strength of the market before the ill-fated mini-Budget and subsequent mortgage meltdown.

The figures also need to be seen in the context of the fact that September 2021 saw a massive rush for the end of the stamp duty holiday, ‘so October 2021 saw a major lull’, according Sarah Coles, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

She added: “Home completions sailed a steady course through October, but the looming storm is likely to sink sales. October saw carnage unleashed in the mortgage market, but buyers, with much lower mortgages already in their back pocket, continued to plough on. It means October sales were still slightly above pre-pandemic levels, but this is the relative calm before the storm.”

View from the ground

Brokers have noted that the market has slowed considerably in the recent months, which is expected to feed through to lower transaction figures.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of broker, Coreco, said: “These figures don’t factor in the chaos of the past month or two. The mini-Budget temporarily blew demand apart as mortgage rates shot up and people played it safe, but transactions and a degree of normality are starting to return.”

Lewis Shaw, founder of Riverside Mortgages, agreed: “These figures lag behind economic reality. On the front line, it’s now a very different story. The phones have stopped ringing, buyers are holding off, and with the World Cup and Christmas upon us, most people have decided to sit tight and wait until next year.”

And Joe Garner, managing director of property developer, NewPlace, added: “So far in the fourth quarter, demand for new build property has fallen off a cliff. Unless sellers are really motivated or have to sell, it is likely transactions will plummet as people stay put and look to ride out the storm.”