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Worst February for home sales in a decade

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

Property sales have now dropped below pre-pandemic levels

There were 76,920 UK residential transactions in February 2023, 18% lower than February 2022 and 2% higher than January 2023, said HM Revenue & Customs.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the figures still show an 18% annual fall, as well as a 4% monthly drop from January to February.

On both measures, it’s the worst February in 10 years.

HM Revenue & Customs noted that residential transactions have been stable in recent months, but said ‘we are now starting to see a decline in the numbers of transactions’.

In fact, home sales are now marginally lower than pre-coronavirus.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Mini-budget misery crashed property sales at the start of this year. However, we don’t yet know whether this is a brief and brutal shock, or the beginning of a miserable period for the property market.

“The question is whether we get the usual pick up in agreed sales this summer, and the jury is still out. Any optimism is based on mortgage rates dropping even further, helping with both affordability and confidence levels from buyers. However, this makes two assumptions that are far from foregone conclusions.”

Karen Noye, mortgage expert at Quilter, added: “Lower residential transactions can have a cascading effect on the overall economy, as the housing market plays a crucial role in generating economic activity, such as construction and home improvement. Moreover, the slowdown in the housing market can also impact the household sector, as it can reduce consumer confidence and affect the wealth of homeowners.

“For the time being, the lack of transactions in the market will have a material impact on house prices, pushing them downwards as sellers compete for buyers, reversing how the market has operated over the last few years.”