Fewer cheaper homes sell compared to those over £1m

Each month over the past three years I have summarised the latest data from Land Registry, Halifax, from Rightmove.co.uk, CML, and the Bank of England and I have been distracted at other sources. Many people are getting ‘index fatigue’. Frankly I am close to getting ‘index rage!

Although it is between one and three months behind the data from HM Land Registry is generally regarded as ‘the authority’. While other sets help look at sub-sets of the market such asking prices, mortgage advances and bank lending some, like the monthly RiCS report seem to measure sentiment or ‘gut feeling’! As a data carnivore, I need meat not Tofu!

So this year I am taking the Land Registry data and looking at volumes of sales and values and their relationship with the previous year and to the peak of the market. Average values vary from parish to parish and the market peaked in each at different times. Prices topped out in Kensington & Chelsea in June 2008 but across London as a whole it was six months earlier. For convenience I will be looking at England & Wales and at London – the latter seemingly immune from the ravages of the wider market.

I am looking at the rarified market of homes over £1m for a couple of reasons;- From 6th April property over £1m will attract an additional 1% Stamp Duty Land Tax and also, those buying at this altitude are not affected quite so much by lending policies in the same way that first time buyers are. In October (the latest month that the Land Registry has just published) sales of properties in England & Wales between £150-£200,000 (which includes the ‘average’ house) were 23% down on last year at 7,495. In August 2007 (the peak of the market) there were 24,274 sales at this level. That’s a 69% fall at the bottom compared to ‘only’ a 40% fall in volumes for homes priced over £1m!

So, what can we see from the first report of the year from the Land Registry published last week?

Across England & Wales average house prices are still nearly 12% below their peak pre-credit crunch levels but at £163,184 they are 2.28% above where they were in December 2009. In London they have done even better – up 8%.

Sales volumes have not faired so well. In October just 56,000 homes sold. A 15% fall on the previous year and 55% fewer than the peak in August 2007. In London, volumes have also fallen over the last year but by only 12% less.

The total value of homes sold has fallen – by nearly 60% from the peak! Estate agency fees have likewise fallen although rising values have cushioned the blow over the past year – they’re down just 4.3%.

The proportion of homes selling at the top end of the market across the country has risen over the past year by 1% but in London they have fallen back by 4.5%. However, London still represents 56% of all property sold over £1m.

Over the past year some 6,725 properties have sold for more than £1m across England and Wales but there is no sign yet of deals at 144 Knightsbridge or as it is now known One Hyde Park. It remains to be seen if they will be as the Land Registry doesn’t publish all transactions. Their list of exempted deals includes those made between companies so it’s possible we may never see them.