Editor's Pick

Sales of homes fell in December

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

The housing market cooled in the last quarter of 2022 and we are likely to see lower transaction figures in the months to come

The number of UK residential transactions in December 2022 was 108,960, according to the latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs.

This was down 3% compared to November and 1% lower than the previous December.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Property sales started to freeze up in December, and we can expect a permafrost to descend for the rest of the winter. December is usually pretty deadly when it comes to sales, because it’s such a miserable time to move, but this December’s drop in sales is likely to herald the start of something more significant.

“The drop we saw in December will not be the last. The RICS Residential Market Survey has charted six months of falling sales – since June – and has noted that ever since the autumn, the descent has picked up the pace.

“We know sales being agreed in the months following the mini-budget in late September were likely to be far lower, given the chaos it unleashed in the mortgage market and the enormous damage it did to buyer confidence. However, with the average sale taking around three and a half months to complete at the moment, we can expect this to start manifesting in January’s figures.

“From then onwards, we can expect a deep chill to settle into the market.”

Nicky Stevenson, managing director at national estate agent group Fine & Country, added: “Last year’s sales numbers were never going to match the stunning highs of 2021, when a combination of soaring demand and stamp duty holidays sent transactions soaring.

“Yet overall sales volumes for 2022 still finished above 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, despite tailing off slightly in December.

“Rising mortgage rates overshadowed the property market in the final months of the year, and may still hold back transaction levels in the early part of 2023.”

Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen, said: “The final transaction data for 2022 echoed the trend we saw throughout the last quarter of the year, reflecting a cooling housing market, weighing heavy under the cost of living crisis.

“The recessionary period we are now in the midst of, alongside the higher borrowing rates on offer compared to this time last year, has certainly impacted people’s appetite to move.”