Alarm bells sound as residential sales collapse to 850,000

Residential transactions in England and Wales fell by nearly 15% last year, new Land Registry figures suggest.

The latest Price Paid Data from the Land Registry, which details property submitted for registration in December, suggests there were 70,943 residential sales registered in the last month of the year.

This is down from 99,385 in November and takes the total registrations for 2017 for residential property to 850,281.

That total was 14.6% down on 2016 when there were 996,650 residential transactions.

The Land Registry’s numbers will be reviewed as it typically takes between two weeks and two months to register a sale.

If correct, it would confirm market sentiment that the transactions slowed last year but suggests they may not have dropped by as much as the 20% that Emoov predicted last week. The online agent said it would release its updated analysis later this week.

Figures also reveal that the Land Registry was working up to Christmas Eve on registering properties, with the last one registered on December 24, 2017.

The most expensive residential sale during December was of a terrace property in the City of Westminster for £10m, while the cheapest residential sale was of a terrace property in Llanelli for £15,000.

The number of transactions in 2017 is far fewer than the 1.2m annual sales regularly reported in recent years and well below the 2m transactions a year that were a feature of the housing market in the 1980s.

They are more closely in line with the figures registered during the slump of 2013, when Land Registry records so there were 805,951 transactions.

Transactions fell considerably lower in the crash of 2008, when there were 650,513 transactions.

The figures come on the back of disappointing levels of mortgage approvals for house purchases throughout the past year.

Figures released by the Bank of England earlier this month showed the extent to which house purchases have slowed as home owners opt to stay put and remortgage instead.

There were 65,139 house purchase mortgage approvals in November, up slightly from 64,887 in October and reversing a trend of monthly falls since September.

But the figure was below the previous six-month average of 66,562.

However, interest in property remains strong, according to Zoopla this morning. Ahead of its AGM today, ZPG said that between October and the end of the year, it averaged 53m visits per month.

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  1. J1

    Grim reading for many ivory tower Directors this morning

    1. Property Ear

      – and grass roots negotiators.

      One must really hope the rapidly spiralling decline in the income of our industry also encourages some compassion from one particular greedy pig portal.

      One has one’s doubts.

      The goose that laid the golden egg comes to mind.

      1. NewsBoy

        Some hope but it should mean a significant drop in Wrongmove and Hoopla’s share price. If it doesn’t I think it is time to buy short.

        Roll on OTM

        Take this with the decline in fees. Our % is down about 20% on three years ago and just take a look at previous years totals as low as 650,000 and you start to realise that we are all in for a difficult time.

  2. TwitterSalisPropNews53

    Depends where/who you are. London sure, volume based conveyancers/estate agent chains sure.

    But in the regions with a handful of offices only – no change.

    And – if the pie is smaller, go out and take a bigger slice. Don’t moan. Cyclical movements like this will weed out the inferior.

  3. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

    So here’s the thing.

    We’ve been bleating on about transaction levels for the past year and yet we seemed to be a lone voice in the wilderness.

    Granted, we were basing this on feedback from agents in London and the south east, but what I don’t understand is how we can go from figures of 1.1m just a few months ago to this figure?  (Which incidentally, is much more in line with what we expected anecdotally).

    Are the Land Registry figures being interpreted differently, or, as we suspect, they are being misunderstood.

    For anyone that has looked at the figures, they are VERY difficult to interpret.


    1. AgentV

      Take any postcode area on rightmove ‘sold prices’ and put in last two years. Then put in last one year. Take away the second figure from the first and that gives you the figure for two years ago….compared to this last year.

      In our area, when I did it a few weeks ago, the figures were down 25%.

      We all know why this is happening…..uncertainty about the economy, Brexit and the constant wrangling from our political leaders (and elections) means many people are sitting tight…rather than getting on with their lives!

      1. VillageAgent

        Just done this and transactions in my area down 30%. In the home counties, this is as much down to stamp duty levels as uncertainty over Brexit. However, just realised that December completions are not showing yet.

        1. AgentV

          It should be rolling years on rightmove house prices tab, as far as I know, so it should be from December 2016 to November 2017 inclusive and December 2015 to November 2016 for the previous year….. if you see what I mean?

          1. mattstephens38

            Arent the sold prices on Rightmove from the land reg? if so they wont have been released yet for December

    2. P-Daddy


      Don’t worry, the boom has returned in the last hour. According to the Office for National Guesses…sorry statistics, 2017 had 1,1,219,730 recorded sales and allowing for seasonal adjustment that increases to 1,223,400. Love it, today I am seasonally adjusted…and therefore I’m feeling better than I did before it was!

  4. MrLister

    When you take into account the drop in the average commission with fees being slashed left, right and center this makes even grimmer reading. This year’s is going to be a huge battle….and that’s without the letting fee changes.

    1. PeeBee

      Just… read your own post again, MrLister.

      Topic of discussion over tonight’s pillow, I respectfully suggest…

  5. smile please

    2013 was not a bad year at all,

    Still plenty of houses to be sold, Still plenty of buyers out there.

    Agents just need to be realistic with pricing and not look to differentiate from the other agents based solely on fee.

    The vanity of extra offices when not needed is the cuts mosts agents will make. Why have 2 or 3 offices servicing and area when 1 will suffice. Extra rent,rates,subscriptions mostly for vanity.

    If you have top teams in offices, they can service just as large areas. Our negs “Service” dedicated areas if we have a large patch within an office.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    If you fancy really drilling down on those figures and seeing every property that sold in your area give this a go:


    1. smile please

      That is seriously brilliant.

      I have a super idea for that, thank you!

  7. bethhodges

    That total was 14.6% down on 2016 when there were 996,650 residential transactions.


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