Halifax: Number of home movers drops by 35% in 2022 but market remains buoyant

Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The number of home movers last year was largely fuelled by the stamp duty holiday, which supported the housing market during the pandemic and led to a 133% increase in home movers between 2020 and 2021.

However, in the first half of this year, that number is down by 35% compared to the same period last year, according to new research by Halifax.

Newly released data shows that in the first six months of this year, 172,510 people moved house, compared to 266,270 in the first half of 2021.

While numbers have dropped this year compared to the record highs of 2021, home moves are still above pre-pandemic levels overall. Home movers now make up 47% of all house purchasers, falling nine percentage points on 2021 (56%).

All UK regions saw the number of home movers fall in the first half of 2022. Greater London saw the greatest fall in people moving into or around the capital, with a drop of 45%, compared to 2021. Just 13,765 people made a move in the Greater London area in the first half of this year. The South East saw a similar proportionate drop, with a fall of 43%. Scotland saw a much smaller fall in movers, of 13%, the lowest of any country or region in the UK. Over 15,000 people made a home move in Scotland – higher than Greater London.

The average house price paid by home movers is now £403,163, up 5% on last year, and 42% over the last five years.

When looking at the five-year trend, Wales and Northern Ireland have experienced the greatest increases in house prices for home movers, both up 48%. They are followed by the North West, East Midlands, and West Midlands, all up 45%. Scotland has seen the lowest change since 2017, at 30% - still a significant growth rate.

In all UK countries and regions, home movers are now bringing equity at 30% or more of the purchase price. At the UK level, these deposits are now a third (33%) for all home movers. For first-time buyers, this figure is 20%. In monetary terms, it means those buying a home now have £134,108 to put towards their move onto the next rung of the ladder. In 2017, this figure was £98,219. The largest deposits are to be found in London at £248,379, followed by South East at £181,228. The North has the smallest average deposit of £73,346.

Andrew Asaam, homes director at Halifax, comments on the findings: “The number of home movers so far this year is lower than the record high set last year: this was not unexpected, and the housing market has remained buoyant in 2022 so far.

“The number of people moving home during the in the first six months of the year was above pre-pandemic levels and is, other than 2021, the busiest start to the year for home moves since 2008.

“Last year was a year like no other – the stamp duty holiday drove an incredible amount of demand, leading to an 133% increase in movers on 2020. So, it was always likely we were going to see a fall compared to that record high, but when we look at numbers overall – movers are very much still moving.

“Greater London has experienced the greatest fall in home movers this year compared to last, with a 45% fall in people moving in the capital. This needs to be considered in the context of 2021, where potential buyers rushed to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday, boosting the number of people entering the market. When looking at the five-year trend, a different story emerges, with the number of home movers in the London area remaining relatively flat. With the cost of the average home for movers in London now at £733,628, it is perhaps unsurprising the market in London is self-correcting, with many likely priced out of moving in and around the capital without additional support.

"While all UK countries and regions have seen a fall in movers this year, the difference has not been so stark for all, with lower drops in Scotland, Wales and the North of England.”

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, comments: “A combination of frustrated demand due to low supply and a sense of urgency to act before mortgage rates rise further is driving activity higher in the UK housing market. The shelves are not emptying as quickly as they were during the stamp duty holiday and supply is normalising, which means the current pipeline of sales in many areas is bigger than it was while the tax break was in place. As mortgage rates rise and supply continues to rebuild, downwards pressure will increase on prices later this year, a trend that would be magnified in the unlikely event of a general election.”

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