Sales fell steeply at the start of this year as transactions slumped across the UK in January, Land Registry data shows. The data builds on separate new HMRC figures, reported by EYE yesterday, showing transactions down in April.
The Land Registry’s House Price Index for March gives an indication of how the sales market performed at the start of 2018, showing transaction data representing 90% of the market in January.
The figures show that the number of completed property transactions across the UK fell by 12.9% annually and 39.4% on a monthly basis to 63,871.
January is traditionally a quieter month for sales, but the decline between December and January is larger than the 29.9% recorded between the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 and the 23.81% recorded a year before.
The annual 12.9% drop is also more than the 3.89% yearly figure recorded in January 2017.
There was a 24.6% drop between December 2014 and January 2015 and 16.2% between December 2013 and January 2014.
The biggest annual drops for January this year were in England and Northern Ireland at 12% and 12.4% respectively. England registered 50,583 sales while Northern Ireland saw 4,545.
Scotland saw sales fall 7.4% annually in January 2018 to 5,909 while Wales experienced a 7.3% fall to 2,834.
London led the decline on a regional basis, seeing volumes fall 19.6% annually to 5,567 during January.
More recent data on house prices for March shows annual growth was flat at 4.2% in March and declined 0.2%, leaving average values at £224,144.
The highest annual growth was in Scotland, up 6.7% to £146,009 on average, while London was the only region to see an annual fall, where prices slid 0.7% to £471,944.
On a monthly basis, the east of England saw the highest growth, at just 1% to £291,415. The largest monthly drop was in the north-east, down 1.5% to £124,381.
Commenting on the data, Sam Mitchell, chief executive of HouseSimple, said: “Buyer demand is holding up, particularly the first-time buyer end of the market. First time buyers are benefiting not just from the stamp duty freeze but also less competition from buy-to-let investors.
“But transaction levels generally are struggling to pick up, and the spring period hasn’t seen the typical rush of purchases that we would normally expect.
“This is partly down to Brexit uncertainty and low stock levels, but it’s also a result of a buyers pushing hard on price and sellers holding out, rather than caving in and feeling pressurised to drop their prices.
“It does feel like we have a stand-off between buyers and sellers at the moment, particularly in London.
“There are still deals being made, and the successful sellers are prepared to negotiate.
“Also, sellers who are on the ball are watching the market, looking at what is selling or not selling in their area, and adjusting their expectations and prices accordingly to attract buyers.”