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Negative February auction figures misleading

by: Heather Greig-Smith
  • 14/03/2017
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Negative February auction figures misleading
Apparent disarray in February’s auction activity is mitigated by last year’s unusually high figures, according to the latest Essential Information Group (EIG) statistics.

The total raised in residential auctions in February fell by 16.6% to £403m from £484m for the same period last year. The number of lots offered was 15.3% down, at 3,183, while the lots sold fell 16.7% to 2,438. Only 76.6% of the lots offered sold, compared with 78% last February.

However, EIG managing director David Sandeman said: “Whilst a cursory glance at the figures shows a sea of red, in February 2016 we saw a major spike in sales due to buyers and sellers wanting to complete before the impending stamp duty changes, which subsequently came into effect on 1st April 2016.”

Sandeman said the next month’s statistics should give a better indication of the market’s progress, and to a greater extent in May, as properties sold within the comparative periods will be subject to the same stamp duty land tax (SDLT) rates.

“Notwithstanding this, positive gains are evident in many northern regions of the UK for the rolling quarter, where lower house prices mean that stamp duty is less of an influencing factor,” said Sandeman.

Scotland saw positive figures across the board for both residential and commercial. Lots offered were up 62% to 264, with lots sold up 94.9% to 191. The total raised was £23m, up from £11m last February.

Sandeman said anecdotal evidence from auctioneers so far in March suggests more expensive London and South East lots are not selling, while lots in cheaper Northern, Scottish and Welsh markets are being snapped up.

Analysing the market’s performance during February over the course of the last decade illustrates that last month’s results are on a par with previous years’ results, and not in disarray that the percentage falls would at first glance suggest.

Whilst both down 14% on last year, the overall lots offered (3,849) and lots sold (2,989) for residential and commercial are at largely the same level as they were in February 2015 (3,381 and 2,995 respectively).

The amount raised at auction fell 15% on last year but it still totalled £93m more than in February 2015 – a gain of 20%.

The figures follow a quiet January, when only 15 sales were held across the UK and only 315 lots sold.

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