Salford and Pontefract were two hotspots, but 2015 was a relatively poor year for house sales due to an “acute shortage” of properties coming on to the market, according to new data.
The number of property sales during the first eight months of 2015 was 8% lower than in the same period in 2014, said the Halifax, which based its figures on the latest Land Registry data which covers more than 550 towns and London boroughs.
The Halifax survey only looks at property sales, though it may help explain why house prices have risen sharply – by 4.5% for the UK as a whole in 2015, according to the Nationwide. Estate agents have warned that ongoing shortages of properties for sale are driving up prices, with buyer demand dramatically outstripping supply in some areas.
There were falling sales in all regions of England and Wales in 2015, though the Halifax said there was “a clear north/south divide”, with sales falling more in the south.
The biggest decline was seen in Greater London – where price growth has been strongest; 69,435 homes were sold between January and August 2015, which is 14% down on the 80,531 transactions during the same period in 2014.
Halifax said the borough of Kensington and Chelsea was the “worst performing” in London in terms of sales, with a 28% decline, followed by Hammersmith and Fulham. In all, 30 London boroughs recorded a fall in sales, with just two experiencing an increase.
There were marked differences in local markets, with pockets of higher and lower activity in all regions. In Yorkshire and the Humber as a whole, for example, sales were down 6% on 2014, but in Batley they were down 27%, and in the fellow West Yorkshire town of Pontefract they were up 20%.
The city of Salford topped the hotspot table with a 23% increase in property sales in the space of a year. Salford’s property market has benefited from the relocation of the BBC and other broadcasters to the waterfront MediaCityUK development, and other regeneration projects.
All 10 towns experiencing the biggest increases in sales are outside southern England.
Craig McKinlay, the Halifax’s mortgage director, said: “Activity in the housing market has generally softened in 2015 … An acute shortage of properties for sales has also added to the constraints on activity.
“Nonetheless, there remain substantial local variations in housing activity, with a small number of towns recording significant increases. These towns are largely in the north, and are where prices are relatively low.”
Earlier this week the Land Registry’s latest data for November revealed that annual house price growth in England and Wales was running at 5.6%. It said London experienced the biggest increase in average property values over the past 12 months: 11.2%. Both Yorkshire and the Humber and the north-east saw the lowest annual price growth with increases of 1.3%.
This month the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said the average number of properties on its estate agent members’ books reached a new low in November.