UK property market shows seasonal slowdown

Following a flurry of property activity during September across the UK, October market activity is subdued in comparison but in line with the historic seasonal slowdown expected – all according to the latest figures from the Agency Express Property Activity Index. Month-on-month data for October 2012 reported that the number of UK-wide residential properties achieving ‘Sold’ status decreased by -0.7%, whilst new ‘For Sale’ listings decreased against the previous month by -16.0%. Interestingly though, October 2012 saw the highest number of properties ‘Sold’ compared to the same month in previous years since the Index began in 2007.

For properties achieving ‘Sold’ status, five of the twelve regions showed month-on-month increases for October with the hot-spots being East Midlands – up by 18.2%, the North West – up 10.3%, London – up 4.8%, West Midlands – up 3.2% and Central England – up by 0.9%. The worst affected regions in October compared to September were Scotland – down 10.9%, the North East – down 8.1%, Yorkshire – down 7.9% and Wales – down by 6.7%. Year on year comparisons for October 2012 v October 2011 show ten of the twelve UK regions with positive trends for the number of properties ‘Sold’ with many generating double-digit growth such as the South West – up 45.5%, the South East – up 33.8% and the East Midlands – up 25.3%.

All 12 UK regions covered within the Index showed month-on-month decreases in new ‘For Sale’ listings during October against the previous month with the worst performers being Yorkshire – down by 24.1%, Scotland – down 22.3%, East Midlands – down 19.0% and the South West – down 17.3%. Interestingly, these four regions were among the best performing regions during September. Year on year comparisons for October 2012 v October 2011 show eight of the twelve UK regions with positive trends for the number of properties listed as ‘For Sale’ with several generating double-digit growth such as the South East – up 68.2%, the North East – up 18.5% and the South West – up 15.9%.

When it came to the number of properties ‘Sold’ across the 22 individual towns and cities covered by the Index, there were significant variations in month-on-month performances. The nation’s hot-spots were Southampton, with an increase of 60.0%, Leicester – up 23.8%, Birmingham – up 23.5%, Manchester – up by 11.9% and Leeds – up by 9.7%. The towns and cities that performed worst month-on-month for properties ‘Sold’ were Bristol – down by 36.8%, York – down 35.8%, Colchester – down 30.3% and Coventry – down 27.3%.

Stephen Watson, Managing Director, Agency Express, commented on the latest Index results saying: “Despite a strong September housing market performance and the announcement that the UK is officially out of recession, the UK property market recovery is still fragile, although the year on year trends are very positive. We still have some underlying negative factors affecting the market such as the continued economic uncertainties both in the UK and Europe, subdued lending and the lack of consumer appetite for taking on increased debt in the form of mortgages. I am cautiously optimistic regarding the Bank of England’s ‘Funding for Lending’ scheme which is aimed at increasing the flow of mortgages to those purchasers with smaller deposits. There are significant regional variations in this month’s Index but in a nutshell, properties are selling if vendors are realistic about their asking prices.”

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