More than 1m homeowners cannot sell

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The Independent Online

More than one million British homeowners cannot sell their properties, research published today shows, highlighting a further slowdown in the housing sector.

A survey by the banking group Santander found that 1.1 million people tried but failed to sell their house in the past 12 months – more than the 725,000 who managed a sale. And more than 750,000 people have tried and failed to buy a house in the past year.

More than half those unable to sell their homes blamed a lack of a buyer, with nearly one in five pointing to unstable property prices.

"There is no denying that the housing market has slowed down in the last few years – but it's not all bad," said Phil Cliff, director of mortgages at the Spanish-owned lender.

"Recently we have seen record low interest rates and, as a result, a significant drop in annual mortgage costs; so there are definitely some great deals out there for prospective buyers," he added.

"Our research also shows that it is not just sellers who are having a hard time, as many buyers say they are unable to secure a good mortgage deal, often because they find it difficult to save a sufficient deposit."

Buyers have long blamed a lack of available mortgages for their being unable to move. The financial crisis led banks to rein in lending, and many require a deposit of at least 25 per cent of the purchase price of a home.