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Sales still nowhere near pre-crash levels, research finds

Property sales in the UK have still not recovered to anywhere close to their pre-2008 levels, a decade on from the start of the global financial crisis. That’s according to Land Registry data research carried out by online agents HouseSimple.com.

When ranking months for completed property sales, from highest to lowest, since January 1995, only one post-financial crisis month – March 2016 – featured in the top 100 months for sales, with 56,183 completed property transactions registered by the Land Registry.

HouseSimple.com analysed completed property transactions registered by the Land Registry in 80 major towns and cities, dating back to when records began in January 1995.

The research found that the average number of properties sold in a single month pre-2008 - before the financial crash - was nearly two-thirds greater (62.4%) than the average number of completed sales since the crisis took hold.

The difference between the two periods is quite stark, with on average 43,898 completed property transactions recorded each month between January 1995 and December 2007, compared to only 27,023 between January 2008 and the present day.

Unsurprisingly, the three lowest months for property sales since January 1995 were the first three months of 2009, when the consequences of the financial crisis really kicked in less than six months after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

The lowest ever month for completed property sales, meanwhile, was January 2009, when the Land Registry recorded only 11,740 sales.

By contrast, 2002 was a bumper year when it comes to the number of properties sold, with three of the top four biggest months for completed property transactions. What’s more, all three of these months saw property sales surpass the 60,000 mark. With 61,904 sales, May 2002 was the biggest month ever for completed property sales.

“These figures show the lasting impact the global financial crisis has had on the UK property market,” Sam Mitchell, chief executive of HouseSimple.com, said.  

“Although monthly numbers have recovered, and are more than twice the level they were in 2009, completed transactions still appear extremely low. For example, in September 2017, there were 25,477 completed transactions, more than 18,000 less than average monthly sales pre-2008.”

He added: “It is worth bearing in mind that leading up to the financial crisis in 2008, we were seeing a countrywide, and unsustainable, buying frenzy. Since the crash, and post-2009 when pretty much every UK town and city saw property transactions hit rock bottom, you could say that many regional property markets have been operating at a level that is more sustainable.”

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