Happy new year?

The number of homes sold in November falls and the outlook for 2009 is pretty bleak.

The latest statistics have been produced for sales that completed in November. Not surprisingly, the number of properties sold in the month has fallen to a new low. So far, just over 10,000 sales have been recorded by the Land Registry in England & Wales, down from 90,581 in November 2007 and 115,873 in November 2006. The total number of sales in November is expected to end up at around 42,000.

Looking at the whole country, figures from HMRC confirm my analysis – that the total number of sales for November is down from 135,000 to just 56,000. With around 45,000 repossessions expected, the total for the year as a whole is therefore likely to be little more than half the 1m sold in 2007.

Nationwide won’t play ball.

News that the Nationwide will not be passing on any rate cut next week to tracker mortgage holders together with the latest figures from Halifax confirm that the start of 2009 will be very bleak for all involved in the property market. The number of estate agency offices has fallen by over 4,200 in 2008 with around 30,000 individuals having lost their jobs.

One in five homes on the market today has been for sale for 12 months or more. Whilst the number of homes coming onto the market will grow I expect fewer than one in five homes will find a buyer in 2009.

It’s not about supply and demand.

House prices are not dictated by supply and demand but by the availability (or not) of credit. The number of mortgage products available has fallen from around 13,600 in July 2007 – just before Northern Rock hit the fan. Three months later in October there were just 10,000. In October last year there were around 3,200 but there are fewer than 1,200 products available today.

There will be many people who would like to buy a new home in 2009 but who will be unable to find a suitable mortgage that will allow them to participate. For those who can get a competitive quote the terms of the loan will mean that most will have to continue to save to afford the increased deposit that lenders will require.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The Government will still take over £52m in VAT from Home Information Packs produced for homes that never actually sell. There ought to be a law against it!