Transaction volumes fall to 30-year low

Property transactions plummeted to their lowest level in 30 years in May, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ housing market survey reveals.

The average number of transactions per surveyor over the last three months is now at 17.4 while 92.9% more surveyors reported a fall than a rise in house price - a decrease from 94.7% in April. But 51% more surveyors reported a fall in buyer enquires in May compared with 69% in April.

Comparatively, the Land Registry’s House Price Index reveals that transaction volumes plunged 30% between November and February. Volumes averaged 72,479 per month, down from an average of 103,141 during the same period last year.

The sale of properties in England and Wales priced between £150,001 and £200,000 suffered the greatest volume decline at 38%, with 14,672 sold in February compared with 22,962 in February 2007. The number of sales of £2m+ properties was unchanged at 84.

Sales of London-based properties priced between £50,001 and £100,000 plunged 72%, with just 25 sales in February compared with 90 during the same period last year. The Registry also reveals that the average house price in England and Wales in April was £183,626 -0.2% down on March and 2.7% down on last year. This compares with £350,925 in London.

Meanwhile, Halifax’s House Price Index for May reveals a 3.8% annual decline in house prices in May, to £184,111, which it attributes in part to household income constraints. Knight Frank reveals a 1.5% decline in central London residential property prices, with sub-£1m property prices down by 2.3%. Overall, the agency says sales were down 50% in May, compared with the same time last year. There is little comfort in builders’ new home application volumes.

The National House-Building Council reveals a 27% decline in applications to start new homes in the UK in the three months from February to April, down to 37,762 compared with 51,465 for the same period last year. Of this, 28,492 relate to the private sector, compared with 41,736 last year - a 32% decline.

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