Housing: House sales plummet almost 40%


Further evidence has emerged of just how far the housing market has fallen since the peak of the last housing boom in 2007.

A new survey has shown that the number of house sales has dropped by nearly 40% over the past five years and that houses are taking longer to sell.

The figures, produced by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), show that in the three months to May 2012 15.6 completed sales were made per surveyor, a massive drop on the same period in 2007 at the height of the housing boom, when 25.4 sales were made.

The fall in completed sales may be down to the longer period of time houses are taking to sell.

According to RICS, estate agents sold an average of 23% of all the properties on their books in the three months to May, down from 41% in 2007.

Stagnant housing market

Housing experts believe that there are a number of reasons for the huge fall in house sales and the generally stagnant housing market.

Firstly, many believe that the market was overheating at the end of the last housing boom, with prices and sales volumes unnaturally inflated, due in part to easy access to mortgage finance, even for those people who could not prove their income.

Since the credit crunch buyers have found it harder to get mortgages, with lending criteria tightened and many people, especially the self employed or those with a chequered credit history, finding it almost impossible to get a mortgage.

Secondly, despite a fall in house prices over the past few years, it seems as though many sellers are unwilling to lower their asking price, in many parts of the country this is leading to a stalemate between buyers and sellers, which is having a knock on effect on the number of properties being sold.

Finally, the poor economic climate and increased job insecurity for many has persuaded large numbers of would be home movers to stay put.

RICS Spokesman, Peter Bolton King, said: “Ongoing economic instability in the UK and overseas has continued to undermine consumer confidence, and the reluctance of many banks to offer affordable mortgage products has created something of a stagnant market.”

He continued: “In spite of this, a gradual stability is returning to the market and surveyors expect transaction levels to increase over the coming months, even if prices continue to dip across most parts of the country.”