After a slump in residential transactions in 2017, could new official figures indicate the start of the pendulum swinging back in the other direction?
That’s the contention from buying agent Garrington Property Finders, after studying the most recent numbers from the Land Registry.
The Land Registry’s latest sales volume figures, released as part of its December House Price Index, show that the number of property transactions completed in the UK decreased by 8.5% year on year in October 2017 to 83,740.
Transactions in English regions have been sliding in recent months, with Yorkshire the only one to see a rise in October, albeit up just 1% to 6,633.
London saw the biggest fall in volumes, down 22% to 6,264.
Sales in Scotland were also up annually in October by 3.9% to 8,831, while England saw a 10.2% drop to 63,603.
Transactions in Wales were down 3.8% to 3,805, while Northern Ireland saw an 8.8% drop to 5,501.
Despite the fact that transactions continued to fall across the majority of the country towards the end of 2017, Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders, saw reasons to be cheerful.
He said: “The solid end to 2017 laid the groundwork for a brisk start to 2018.
“Two key catalysts have injected momentum into what is steadily becoming a more free-flowing market: December’s subtle improvement in sentiment around Britain’s economic prospects and the fear that interest rate rises will end the era of cheap finance sooner than expected.
“Together these forces have prompted a number of would-be buyers to get off the fence and commit to moving in 2018.
“As a result the market dynamics are shifting. Whereas in 2017 constrained demand allowed the limited number of buyers to make all the running, this year the pendulum appears to be swinging back to create a more balanced market.
“Crucially, the experience of 2017 has forced many sellers to adjust their price expectations. The days of kite-flying are over, and the homes coming onto the market now tend to be much more sensibly priced.
“Conversely, some buyers may now need to shed the assumption that every seller will be willing to slash prices further. Many of the discounts are already priced in as the stand-off of 2017 eases and the market returns to a more free-flowing, if equally cautious, pattern.”
Meanwhile, the Index shows that annual price growth improved in December, with average values up 5.2% from 5% a month before, putting the typical UK property price at £226,756.
This is up 0.4% on a monthly basis.
The data also gives an idea of how prices performed in 2017, with Scotland up by the most annually at the end of December, increasing 7.7% to £148,783.
This was followed by the south west, which recorded 7.5% annual growth in December to £254,081.
London registered the slowest annual growth for 2017, at 2.5% to £484,173.