House sales fall to eight-year low

Bad weather last month led to low property sales across the country

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The severe winter weather conditions exacerbated an already-subdued housing market in December, resulting in the number of homes sold falling to an eight-year low.

However, experts say early signs indicate that the year could experience a resurgence in demand and activity.

A combination of the bad weather and the approach of Christmas meant the average estate agent sold just four properties last month, according to the latest report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). This is the lowest figure per agent since January 2003, when the figure was two properties per branch. In November 2010, the average branch sold seven properties.

Sales traditionally drop in December, as many people are reluctant to buy or sell during the holiday season. But UK’s snowfall exacerbated the already low sales.

“December is always a slow month for agents, but there is little doubt that these figures are worse than usual. The lack of sales can be explained by freak weather conditions, rather than any underlying problem with the market. We would hope to see a bounce-back in the next few months,” said Mike Jones, president of the NAEA.

However, other trends in the housing market provide a glimmer of hope for the housing market. The supply of properties remained strong in December, when a fall had been expected. The average branch had 64 properties on its books in December, the same as the previous month.

The percentage of sales made to first time buyers increased from 19 per cent in November to 25 per cent in December. But the number of people registering to look for property fell from 241 in November to 227 in December.

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