2014 was the year in which the housing market continued to claw its way back to prosperity; and as a result, it recorded the highest number of sales seen since the boom of 2007.
According to figures released by Lloyds Bank, house sales in the first 10 months of 2014 were 21% higher than those recorded during the same period in 2013, totalling 760,000 sales in England & Wales. This marks a dramatic improvement upon the situation witnessed at the height of the recession; in 2009, sales were 60% lower than those recorded last year.
All regions within England & Wales enjoyed growing prosperity in 2014, with the strongest recoveries year-on-year seen in the East Midlands (26%), West Midlands (25%) and the North West (25%). Looking back further, all regions have seen rises of at least 50% since 2009, with London recording the biggest sales pick-up over the last five years, gaining growth of 74% since the height of the recession.
Some towns in the survey even topped their pre-recession levels. The research found that a total of 12 towns in 2014 had sales figures above those recorded in 2007, with sales in Biggleswade in Bedfordshire scoring the biggest increase being 19% above pre-recession sales numbers.
However, while this growth is to be celebrated, things aren't quite back to the way they were before the recession hit. Overall, sales in 2014 still remained more than a quarter (27%) down on the levels achieved in 2007, and while a few individual towns may have beaten their pre-recession figures, no region as a whole topped the achievements made at the height of the boom.
Northern regions in particular remain well below the sales figures of 2007, with the North being 41% below its 2007 sales figures, while the North West and Yorkshire & Humber are 37% and 35% down respectively. Indeed, in the town of Nelson in Lancashire, sales were still two-thirds lower than in the halcyon days of 2007.
"Low interest rates, improvements in the UK economy and Government schemes, such as Help to Buy, all appear to have contributes to the rise in home sales," commented Andy Hulme of Lloyds Bank. "[But,] despite these improvements, sales both nationally and regionally are still significantly below their pre-recession levels."
Nevertheless, while sales may not be back to what they were in 2007, the housing market is still looking positive, so now could be the perfect time to either move up the ladder or get your foot on the first rung.
If that's the case, you will need a mortgage to suit. Take a look at our mortgage best buys to get an idea of the best deals out there, and if you're a first-time buyer, we've selected the best products out there for you. Once you've found the perfect deal, that next big step towards owning your dream home could be a little bit closer.
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