Property sales slump across towns in England and Wales
The housing market recovery has "stumbled" during the last year, with more than four in five towns across England and Wales seeing a dip in property sales, analysis has found.
Some 82% of towns included in research from Lloyds Bank saw house sales fall between 2015 and 2016.
Bucking the general downward trend, Retford in the East Midlands saw the biggest rise in home sales, with a 15% year-on-year increase, followed by Cannock in the West Midlands, where house sales were up by 12% annually.
There was a general north-south divide, with most of the towns seeing the biggest year-on-year increases in home sales being situated outside southern England.
Brent in London and Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire recorded the largest drops in home sales in 2016, both falling by 30%.
Despite the recent dip in home sales, there has been an improvement from when the market started to recover from the financial crisis, Lloyds said. The number of sales across England and Wales as a whole increased by 29% from 2011 to 2016.
And the first-time buyer housing market as a proportion of overall sales has continued to grow. In 2006, just over a third (36%) of all house purchases financed by a mortgage were made by first-time buyers. In 2016, this proportion is estimated to have reached almost half (49%) - the highest level since 1996.
A series of stamp duty changes which have made the tax more expensive for people purchasing top-end properties and for buy-to-let investors have been blamed by some commentators for disrupting the housing market.
Andy Mason, mortgage director at Lloyds Bank, said: "The recovery in the housing market has stumbled during the past year."
He continued: "The decrease in the amount of people moving home could be caused by movers not being able to find the right home, in the right location or those who don't have enough equity in their current home to put down as a large enough deposit for their next mortgage.
"Add to this that the average cost of moving home is close to £11,000, with costs in London over £31,000 and these factors make it more challenging for those looking to move home."
Lloyds used Land Registry figures to make the findings.
Here are the top property hotspots in 2016, according to Lloyds Bank, with the biggest year-on-year percentage increases in sales in 2016:
1. Retford, East Midlands, 15%
=2. Cannock, West Midlands, 12%
=2. Nelson, North West, 12%
=4. Dewsbury, Yorkshire and the Humber, 11%
=4. Lytham St Annes, North West, 11%
=4. Wisbech, East Anglia, 11%
=7. Thornton Cleveleys, North West, 10%
=7. Burnley, North West, 10%
=7. Lowestoft, East Anglia, 10%
10. Coalville, East Midlands, 9%
And here are the 10 property coldspots in 2016, according to Lloyds Bank, showing the biggest year-on-year percentage falls in sales in 2016:
=1. Brent, London, minus 30%
=1. Berkhamsted, South East, minus 30%
3. Newham, London, minus 29%
4. Harrow, London, minus 28%
=5. Workington, North, minus 26%
=5. Hackney, London, minus 26%
=7. Basildon, South East, minus 24%
=7. Hounslow, London, minus 24%
=7. Southwark, London, minus 24%
10. Thatcham, South East, minus 23%