House price growth speeds up as transactions plummet by 15% across UK

11/18/2018

Property transactions are down 15.1% across the UK, according to the latest official figures, led by declines in London, the east and the south-east of England.

New Land Registry figures for sales volumes date back to July - but, while lagging, are also startling.

They show UK transactions fell 17.2% annually in England, 12.4% in Northern Ireland, 10.6% in Wales and 1.9% in Scotland.

All English regions saw a drop in volumes, led by a 19.1% fall in the south-east, 18.8% in the east and 18.5% in London.

The figures form part of the Land Registry's latest House Price Index, which show that average house prices had grown by 3.5% annually in September to £232,554, a faster yearly rate than the 3% recorded for August.

However, much of the house price growth may have been led by new-builds if the Land Registry's most recent data for this part of the market in July is anything to go by.

Its numbers show new-build prices were up by 6.8% annually in the year to July 2018, while secondhand homes were up 2.9% over the same period.

The Land Registry's house price figures for secondhand homes in September showed average prices grew fastest in the west midlands region, increasing by 6.1% annually, closely followed by the east midlands which increased by 6% over the year.

In contrast, prices in London fell by 0.3% in the year to September.

Commenting on the figures, Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders, said there was still "pent-up demand from buyers and sellers awaiting the outcome of Brexit negotiations".

He said: "Beneath the millpond-like surface of the property market, there is a small but ruthlessly active hidden market.

"We're seeing growing numbers of cash buyers emerging to snap up homes at large discounts. And if they're the predators, their prey are the sellers who are being compelled to sell by circumstance.

"While the 'three d's' that typically force reluctant sales - debt, death and divorce - are perennial problems, the sellers currently taking the biggest hits are the unfortunates who either bought when the market was peaking or in areas where price growth wasn't backed by solid fundamentals like good schools or transport links.

"But while opportunistic buyers are having a field day with sellers who have to sell now, there's a far bigger contingent of 'survivor' sellers. These are pragmatists who are unfazed by what for now remains a loss on paper, and who are able to wait until prices pick up before putting their home on the market."