Property Update: Sales figures drop to an 18-year low

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HOME sales will hit their lowest point for 18 years unless falling interest rates bring out more buyers by the end of 1992. Fewer than 950,000 deals will go through this year if sales continue at the rate they were between January and August, according to figures published by the Inland Revenue. The previous low was during the 1974 slump, when deals were running at around 870,000. But Adrian Coles, of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, points out that a smaller proportion of people owned property then, so this still meant around 10 per cent of owner-occupied homes changed hands. This year it could be more like 7 per cent, the lowest level since records were started in 1967. One curious fact is that the biggest fall in sales last year occurred in the North (down by 22 per cent) and Yorkshire/Humberside (down by 14 per cent), which were supposed to have been least hit by the recession. In the South-east they actually rose, by almost 3 per cent.