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Flat owners four times as likely to sell at a loss compared to house movers

Written by: Lana Clements
Owners of houses made far larger gains than their flat-selling peers. Indeed, the latter are four times more likely to sell at a loss.

Double digit house price growth helped home sellers in 2022 bag a record average profit of £108,000.

The uplift in gains is also thanks to more people selling larger homes last year, according to estate agent Hamptons.

Detached homes made up 19% of sales in 2022, but account for 35% of properties selling for six figure gains at a typical profit of £186,940.

This is 3.3 times the average £57,080 gain made on a flat. Hamptons also found flat owners were four times more likely to sell at a loss compared to those owning a home.

However, flat sellers typically own the property for a shorter time than house owners.

A weaker flat market has meant more of these owners have to remain in the dwelling. Of all flats sold in 2022, 34% were bought in the last five years, down from 41% in 2020.

Overall, there are now 173 local authorities in England and Wales where the typical homeowner made a six-figure gain when selling, Hamptons found.

A record 94% of sellers in the last year got more back than they paid. Meanwhile, the average length of time owning a home was 8.9 years.

Regional differences

London is the only region where the average household gain topped £100,000 in every local authority in 2022.

In cash terms, sellers in Kensington & Chelsea saw the biggest gains with households pocketing an average £684,510 in profit.

However, slower house price growth in London has meant, in percentage terms, Welsh sellers made 59% more in 2022 versus 57% in the capital.

The region with lowest gains was the North East with an average uplift of £37,890.

Covid skews sales profits

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “Soaring house price growth has boosted the money homeowners have made when they sell.

“House price gains are primarily driven by two factors – the length of time people have owned and the point at which they bought and sold in the house price cycle.

“2022’s record breaking gains were boosted by Covid-induced changes, with a rising share of sales coming from larger family homes that were typically bought before the financial crisis.

“However, most of these profits are never seen by sellers as they are reinvested back into the housing market when they make their next purchase which has also increased in value.”

Beveridge added that house price growth hasn’t been distributed equally, however.

“Flat owners, in particular, have seen weaker price growth and are nearly four times as likely to sell at a loss compared to someone selling a house,” she said.

She added: “Typically, these are first-time buyers and second steppers who have bought in the last five years and have accrued less equity in their homes.  This, combined with higher mortgage rates, has limited their ability to cash in and trade up in 2022.

“While there are a number of uncertainties weighing on the market, even if prices do fall this year, it’s likely that over 90% of sellers will still sell at a profit.

“The other 10% will mostly be flat owners who bought in the last five or so years.

“The shift away from recent mortgaged homeowners selling cheaper homes towards older, more affluent homeowners selling more expensive homes also looks set to push up gains among sellers again this year.”

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