Almost exactly one quarter of house sales in England and Wales fell through prior to completion according to new figures.
In the final quarter of the year the figure was higher still at 28.21 per cent, taking the all-2019 figures to 24.42 per cent.
The figures come from bulk home buying service Quick Move Now, which has for some years monitored fall-throughs across the UK housing market.
It’s quoted as saying that responsibility for collapses lies with both sellers and buyers. The chief reasons over all of 2019 were:
- Buyer changed mind (34 per cent);
- Difficulty securing a mortgage (17 per cent);
- Seller pulled out due to slow progress (15 per cent);
- Chain break (13 per cent);
- Problem identified during survey (11 per cent);
- Seller accepted higher offer from different buyer (10 per cent).
“2019 was another mixed year for the property market. Brexit and a general election created a significant amount of uncertainty, which undoubtedly had an impact on market confidence and led to some would-be buyers and sellers taking a ‘wait and see’ approach” Danny Luke, Quick Move Now’s managing director, told Mortgage Finance Gazette.
“Those who did choose to move forward with a sale or purchase were serious and committed to the sale – the annual fall through rate is the lowest we have seen since 2013 – but buyer and seller caution are still visible in the reasons given for unsuccessful sales.
“Post-general election, we expect to see a level of confidence return to the market over the coming year.”
The figures will be grist to the mill for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which has said it remains determined to steer the introduction of reforms making it faster, more transparent and less stressful to sell and buy residential property.
Within months a pilot project on reservation agreements is likely to be held in at least two regions of the country, with a range of financial incentives being tested to try to deter late withdrawals by buyers or sellers.
Simultaneously work is being undertaken on a form of property logbook which may, eventually, be passed from seller to potential buyer at an early stage in the transaction, in a bid to avoid ‘late surprises’ which lead to sales falling through.