New research from Halifax has highlighted that during the first eight months of 2015, property sales were 8% lower than in the same period in 2014.
All regions saw a fall in sales in 2015, but there was a clear north/south divide with sales falling more in the south. The biggest decline was in Greater London (-14%), whereas the smallest fall was in the North West (-3%). However, there were still marked differences in local markets, with pockets of higher and lower activity in all regions. In Yorkshire & the Humber for example, the sales were down 6%, but whereas in Batley they were down 27%, in Pontefract they were up 20%.
The majority (82%) of towns saw a decrease in sales between 2014 and 2015. This was in stark contrast to 2014 when nearly all towns (97%) recorded a rise in sales. Those areas which saw the biggest declines in activity did not necessarily see a drop off in house price rises, so although Greater London saw a decline in sales of 6%, average house prices increased by £55,095.
Two towns recorded a 20% or more increase in sales between 2014 and 2015, with the biggest rises in Salford in the North West (23%) and Pontefract in West Yorkshire (20%). All ten towns experiencing the biggest increases in sales are outside southern England.
Market Rasen in Lincolnshire saw the biggest fall in sales with a 30% decline between the first eight months of 2014 and the same period in 2015. Seventeen towns saw a fall of 25% or more and seven of the ten towns recording the biggest declines are in London and the South East.
Kensington and Chelsea was the worst performing London borough with a 28% decline followed closely by Hammersmith and Fulham. Thirty London boroughs recorded a fall in sales with two experiencing an increase.
Craig McKinlay, Mortgages Director at Halifax, commented: "Activity in the housing market has generally softened in 2015 with sales in the first eight months of the year down by 8% compared with the same period in 2014. While sales have declined in all regions, there is a clear north versus south pattern with sales falling most in southern regions. An acute shortage of properties for sales has also added to the constraints on activity.
Nonetheless, there remain substantial local variations in housing activity with a small number of towns recording significant increases. These towns are largely in the north and are where prices are relatively low.”