Almost half – 45% – of homes taken off the market last year across the UK were not sold but withdrawn.
In London, the withdrawal ratio was an astonishing 61%. If you took London out of the equation, the withdrawal rate across England and Wales was 40%.
Even more astonishingly, 38% of the withdrawn properties had actually received an offer.
The potential fee income lost to agents was over £4bn.
The statistics are in a new joint report by Reapit and Dataloft.
The research was made possible by the introduction by Reapit of a management information dashboard monitoring properties withdrawn from sale.
Introducing the new report, called Lost Potential, Reapit CEO Gary Barker said that during testing of this feature, it became apparent that agents had not been measuring withdrawn properties effectively, and many thousands of pounds of agency commission were being lost.
Reapit decided to look more closely at the data, based on over 100,000 properties that were taken off the market last year because they were either sold or withdrawn.
It also commissioned Dataloft, an independent market intelligence business, to establish a benchmark by which agents could assess their own performance.
Barker says: “The findings are quite simply staggering.”
One finding is that withdrawals peaked in July and November last year; another is that higher priced homes were far more likely to be withdrawn.
Below £500,000, sales outweighed withdrawals; above that, withdrawals outweighed sales.
For example, in homes costing between £500,000 and £750,000, just 43% sold and 57% were withdrawn. In the £1m to £2m price bracket, 38% of homes taken off the market were sold, with 62% withdrawn.
The report does point out that the mood of the nation was generally unsettled last year, with a snap election and Brexit dominating the news.
The year could have been exceptional – or typical.
Nationally, London’s high withdrawal rate was followed by withdrawal rates of 47% in the east of England and 44% in the south east.
The withdrawal rate for Wales was 35%, and in Scotland 17%.
The report also offers insight into how quickly properties were withdrawn – an average of 5.5 months. Surprisingly, almost 40% of withdrawals occurred within three months of being listed. However, the report does not spell out whether the withdrawn properties went on to be listed with other agents; nor does it go into detail as to the reason for the withdrawals – although vendor impatience, problems with sales progression, and with chains are all mentioned.
The report points out that such high withdrawal rates do mean that vendors who pay upfront “have a high chance of disappointment”.
There is to be a webinar this Thursday presenting the findings.