THE latest Agency Express Property Activity Index shows that the UK housing market continued its slow but steady recovery in 2012. Whilst December's month on month house sales experienced the usual seasonal decline, dropping 30.3% on November, overall the total number of properties that achieved 'Sold' status in 2012 increased by 4.9% compared to 2011, the second highest annual total since the Index began in 2007.
Evidence of a recovery in confidence can also be seen in the number of new 'For Sale' properties coming onto the market in 2012, up by 3.7% compared to 2011.
The December Index also provides further encouragement through the fact that December house sales were the highest recorded for any December since the Property Activity Index began.
For properties achieving 'Sold' status all 12 of the regions covered by the Index showed month-on-month decreases for December against November but very much in line with the seasonal trend.
The regions reporting the smallest drop in month-on-month figures were the East Midlands – down 18.7%, the West Midlands – down 21.4%, Yorkshire – down 25.4% and the North West, down 28.4%.
The not-so-hot-spots for December compared to November were th e North East – down 44.9%, London – down 35.4%, East Anglia – down 35.2% and Wales – down 31.4%.
Year on year comparisons for December 2012 v December 2011 show six of the 12 UK regions with positive trends for the number of properties 'Sold' with many generating double-digit growth such as the South East – up 59.4%, the West Midlands – up 37.4% and the East Midlands – up 23.8%.
All 12 UK regions covered within the Index showed month-on-month decreases in new 'For Sale' listings during December with the largest declines reported in the North West – down by 52.2%, Wales – down 48.1% and the South West – down 45.9%.
Year on year comparisons for December 2012 v December 2011 show six of the 12 UK regions with positive trends for the number of new 'For Sale' listings with the top performers being the South East – up 40.5%, the North West – up 18.9% and the South West – up 15.9%.
Surprisingly, when it came to the number of properties 'Sold' across the 22 individual towns and cities covered by the Index, there were significant variations in month-on-month performances despite the time of year.
The nation's hot-spots bucking the seasonal trend were Coventry, with an increase of 177.8% and Leicester – up 12.5%.
The towns and cities that performed worst month-on-month for properties 'Sold' were Oxford – down by 56.6%, Newcastle – down 53.2%, Glasgow – down 44.7% and Milton Keynes – down 43.8%.
Stephen Watson, Managing Director, Agency Express, commented on the latest Index results saying: "We normally expect to see a significant drop in housing market activity in December so generally the figures are in line, but the fact that the total number of properties sold in 2012 was the second highest since 2007 and December 2012 numbers were the highest recorded for the same month since 2007 should give a degree of optimism for even the most pessimistic consumer.
2012 has also offered supporting evidence pointing towards a steady recovery in the market with mortgage approvals hitting a 10-month high in the latter part of the year but there are however a number of underlying factors that will continue to impact the market in 2013, not least the ongoing concerns regarding economic stability for both the UK and Europe."