Home owners have a 1:10 chance of selling

The latest data on properties selling in England and Wales has been published. It makes grim reading. The Land Registry figures confirm formally the number of sales in November last year.

In London the number of sales was down 72% to just 3,504 – from 12,719 in November 2007.

In the rest of the country, sales were down 67% from 100,730 in November 2007 to just 33,404.

Early indications suggest that December and January will fair little better with both months showing year-on-year falls of over 50%. You will have seen from my email of February 24th that the number of new properties coming onto the market is at a record low with fewer than 50,000 being put on the market in January. Normally this figure would be over 140,000.

These figures are the worst I can remember. It’s easy to see how people are now panicking about if they can actually find a buyer at any price with estate agents selling less than one property a week.

Talk of ‘green shoots’ is particularly ironic in London were the official figures confirm that sales of homes worth between £250,000 and £300,000 were 80% down. If you put your house on the market now you have about a 10% chance of selling. Bad news not just for home owners but for all connected to house sales – estate agents, removal firms, builders and decorators too.

Just when the housing market needs a pick-me-up, on April 6th the Government will bring to an end to what’s called “first day marketing”. This will put a stop to the ‘grey market’ of homes offered quietly for sale as all properties being marketed will require a full Home Information Pack before a sale board can be put up, before it can be advertised or even mentioned to a potential buyer. Despite wide condemnation from across the industry, the exchequer will still raise over £56m in VAT from HiPs prepared for the thousands of properties that will never actually sell.