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Number of homes bought mortgage-free drops to 12-year low

Shekina Tuahene
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Shekina Tuahene

The proportion of homes in the UK bought with cash fell to 28 per cent in the first six months of 2019, the lowest level since records began in 2007, data from Hamptons International has shown.

This is significantly lower than the peak of 36 per cent recorded in 2009. 

According to Hamptons, the proportion of homes purchased with cash had fallen by a further five per cent over the last two years.  

Falls across all regions 

Every region recorded a drop in cash sales over the last two years. The West Midlands recorded the biggest decrease in the proportion of homes bought with cash since the first half of 2017, down nine per cent, followed by London which had a seven per cent decline.   

Scotland recorded the smallest fall, with the proportion of homes bought mortgage-free decreasing one per cent since 2017. 

The South West remains the region with the highest proportion of cash sales; 34 per cent of homes were purchased with cash in the six months to June.   

Meanwhile London had the lowest proportion of cash sales – just 19 per cent, which is eight per cent lower than 2009 when cash buyers in the capital peaked.  

Average price of cash-bought homes on the up 

According to the latest Land Registry data the average home bought with cash in the first half of 2019 cost £217,810, up 1.4 per cent since the same period in 2017.   

Meanwhile in London, the average home bought with cash cost £489,820, 3.6 per cent less than in 2017. 

Drop in cash BTL investors 

Ten years ago, investors accounted for 32 per cent of cash buyers, but during the first half of 2019 only 24 per cent of cash purchases were bought as buy to let.   

Instead, 68 per cent of homes bought with cash this year were purchased by homeowners wanting to live in the property. This is up from 61 per cent in the first half of 2009.  

Meanwhile second homeowners accounted for five per cent of cash purchases this year. 

Smaller homes preferred 

Smaller homes seemed to be the chosen property for cash buyers as 18 per cent purchased a four-bedroom home in H1 2017, but this fell to 16 per cent in H1 2019.  

Meanwhile the proportion of cash purchasers buying a two-bedroom property rose from 32 per cent in H1 2017 to 34 per cent in H1 2019. 

Decrease in downsizers

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, said: “Although transactions have fallen this year, cash purchases decreased even further. 

“The fall in cash purchases not only reflects tighter affordability, but also a decrease in activity amongst downsizers, the group of people most likely to have built up enough equity to purchase property with cash.”