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Home sales drop by half in four years

Overall, there were 649,957 home sales in England and Wales in 2010; 47% less than in 2007 (1,222,402).

The southern regions of England recorded the lowest declines in property sales since 2007 with the smallest fall in the South West (-39%). In contrast, the number of home sales in the North declined by 56%, more than in any other region. The North West (-55%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (-53%) experienced the next largest falls.

There was a 6% rise in home sales in England and Wales between 2009 and 2010. Sales increased by 22% in Greater London, far exceeding the rises elsewhere with Wales recording the next biggest increase (7%). East Anglia was the only region not to experience a rise in sales (0%).

Seven out of the ten towns that saw the biggest increases in property sales between 2009 and 2010 are located in the South. Brent in London recorded the largest increase (53%), followed by Tadworth in Surrey (51%).

All four towns with the smallest decline in property sales between 2007 and 2010 are in the South East. Housing market activity has proved most resilient since 2007 in the Surrey town of Esher with sales falling by 14.6%; less than a third of the national decline. Outside southern England, Kenilworth in the West Midlands recorded the smallest fall in sales (-24%).

Half of the ten towns with the largest declines in home sales since 2007 are in the North West. Birkenhead on Merseyside saw the largest decline (-69%), followed by Burnley and Gainsborough in Lincolnshire (both -68%). No towns in the South feature among the ten towns with the biggest falls in sales.

House price growth has generally been stronger in the locations that experienced the lowest falls in home sales. Between 2007 and 2010, house prices rose by an average of 5% across the ten towns that saw the smallest drop in property sales.

Suren Thiru, Lloyds TSB Housing Economist, said: "The decline in housing market activity over the past three years has been substantial. The current level of activity remains significantly below historic levels despite most regions seeing some increase in transactions in 2010. A North-South divide appears to have opened up in the housing market with both home sales and price growth in the south proving more resilient than the north over the last few years.

"Looking forward, the overall level of activity in the housing market is likely to remain somewhat subdued for the foreseeable future, although regional differences are likely."

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