Drop in sales not as severe as previous years

This is according to the latest release of data from the Agency Express Property Activity Index. It found that in November the number of residential house sales agreed in the UK fell by 5.8% compared to a 4.0% rise in October. And compared to November 2009, sales were down just 1.4%. In previous years, November has seen monthly house sales falls of 20.5% in 2007, 23.9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009.

The amount of new ‘For Sale’ signs that went up in November was down 12.6%, the third consecutive month that there has been a monthly fall, with all regions seeing a downturn. Again, this hasn’t been as dramatic a fall as in November 2007 when there was drop of 17.9% or November 2008 when there was 30.3% reduction. And encouragingly, the number of properties put on the market this November was still 12.1% more than the corresponding month in 2009.

Commenting on the latest Index results, Stephen Watson, managing director, Agency Express, said: “Whilst there was an expected downturn in the number of properties sold and new ‘For Sale’ instructions this month, it wasn’t as severe as we might have anticipated.

“Normally, we see activity tailing off as we start the run up to Christmas but the latest index results indicate that people appear less perturbed by the onset of the festive period. This should give the market a degree of optimism with more stability returning. The fall in house prices recorded over the last few months, seems to have left those who are serious house sellers and buyers remaining in the market whilst people who might have speculatively put their houses on the market earlier in the year have decided to stay put.”

Only three regions in the UK reported an increase in house sales in November. The South East saw a 19.6% jump, with sales up 10.9% in the West Midlands and 4.9% in Wales. The regions that experienced the biggest falls in house sales were the North East down 20.0%, the North West down 17.0% and Yorkshire down 11.5%.

Nine cities also saw positive growth in house sales in November with Southampton seeing a massive 72.7% increase followed by Brighton and Coventry who both had a 25.0% rise. Other cities to see a rise were Exeter, Manchester, Colchester, Cardiff, Birmingham and Norwich.

Most regions had double digit falls in the number of new properties being put on the market, although Wales had the shallowest drop down only 1.9%. Yorkshire down 6.7% and Central England down 9.2% were the only two other regions with single digit falls. Only one city - Southampton up 64.3% - saw growth in new listings. Carlisle had the worst month of all UK cities with a huge fall of 35.1%.