Home moves in England and Wales struggling to complete: Landmark

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Although the market is stabilising across most of the transaction pipeline, transactions are elongating between sold subject to contract (SSTC) and completion, according to Landmark Information Group’s latest market data.

The latest report shows that most of the transaction pipeline is working well, with listings, SSTC and searches not deviating by more than 5% on a monthly basis, compared to 2019. 

This contrasts with Q1 where the market was more unstable, fluctuating by up to 18% within the quarter.  

However, the number of transactions progressing to completion is down 11% compared to Q2 2019 levels and 7% on average compared to the first quarter this year as buyer confidence is increasingly hit by cost-of-living pressures and increasing interest rates. 

After a stronger close to Q1, data showed that the market return to lower supply levels in April and May. Listings picked up in June but Landmark notes that confidence will only return if there is consistency over consecutive months. 

Elsewhere, demand has slowed down a little across Q2 due to interest rates and affordability concerns. It found that by June supply had returned to the same levels seen in 2019, indicating more choice for buyers. 

Landmark says this confidence is being further hampered by long transaction times and expired mortgage offers. 

It reveals that the average transaction time has grown by 27 days from the first half of 2019 when it was 91 days to the first half of this year where it stands at 118 days.

Data also shows that the ratio of valuations per offer has risen by 15% in the first five months of 2022, compared with the same period in 2019, indicating that false starts are now on the rise.

Meanwhile, sellers are increasingly emboldened by rising property prices as they seek the best offer possible to fund their onward purchase, which Landmark says is further contributing to the elongation of chains dragging out. 

Commenting on the latest data, Landmark Information Group chief executive Simon Brown says: “Whilst the property market is stable across much of the transaction chain, we are starting to see the friction between buyer hesitancy and seller bullishness on price being played out in completion rates – already struggling due to inefficiencies and disconnects across the transaction process.”

“With buyers increasingly mindful of cost-of-living pressures and higher interest rates, there needs to be stronger confidence in the transaction process itself. Home-movers have to be able to trust that a transaction will run smoothly – at the moment the fragility of the system creates real risk of chain collapse for those wanting to move within a reasonable timeframe,” Brown adds.  

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