“Homeowners were moving increasingly frequently up to 2015, but this trend is now clearly in reverse, which I expect to continue. ”
The number of home moves within the owner-occupier sector plummeted by 10% between 2016 and 2017, according to analysis by reallymoving.com.
The firm believes Brexit uncertainty is partly to blame and has made homeowners increasingly reluctant to take on new debt.
The total number of house moves fell from 476,000 in the year to March 2016, the year of the EU Referendum, to 430,000 in the year to March 2017 – a reduction of 46,000.
This has resulted in a loss to the UK economy in the region of £430 million, based on the website’s estimate of the cost of moving, in addition to estimated £125 million lost to the Treasury in Stamp Duty revenue.
Growing reluctance to move is resulting in homeowners staying in their homes for an average of 27.3 years, compared to 24.3 years in 2013/14.
In contrast, the average tenure for a private rental tenant is just four years. Private renters accounted for a remarkable 55% of home moves in 2017, despite constituting just 20% of UK households.
While the number of home moves by owner-occupiers has fallen, there has been a 22% rise in new owner-occupier households during the last year. Reallymoving’s data shows that first-time buyer activity has increased considerably, accounting for 54% of all conveyancing quotes on the site in 2017 compared to 43% the previous year, suggesting that Government support such as Help to Buy is successfully boosting first time home ownership despite wider economic conditions.
Rob Houghton, CEO of Reallymoving, said: “The life events that normally prompt home moves, such as growing families, new jobs and separation or divorce, are continuing as normal, yet home moves by owner-occupiers have dropped considerably over the last year. Our research shows that homeowners were moving increasingly frequently up to 2015, but this trend is now clearly in reverse, which I expect to continue. Government policy to actively encourage first-time buyers and deter buy-to-let investors has plugged the gap somewhat, with a 22% surge in new owner-occupier households over the last twelve months.
“Meanwhile, the private rental sector remains highly fluid. Many families are unable to buy and with little chance of securing social housing, they are at the mercy of short-term rental contracts with very little protection or security. While some tenants will benefit from and enjoy the flexibility of the private rented sector, the vast difference in tenures between owner-occupiers and private renters, 27.3 years compared to just 4, suggests that when in control of their destiny, people choose to move less frequently.”