How often do we move house in Britain?

How often do we move house in Britain?

By Debbie White

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Homebuyers are waiting more than two decades on average between house moves, according to Zoopla's latest figures.

What's the latest?

Evidence of the property market slowdown has been highlighted in Zoopla’s latest research, which shows that, on average, Britons currently move home every 23 years.

That’s a far cry from several decades ago in 1988, when a more buoyant market during the ‘Lawson Boom’ – a time of strong economic growth under the then-Chancellor, Nigel Lawson – saw Britons moving home every 8.63 years.

This year however, has seen muted activity in the housing market on the back of tax changes, political and economic uncertainty and a shortage of homes for sale, all topped off with ongoing affordability problems.

Who does it affect?

Zoopla’s snapshot of homemoving Britain reveals wide variations throughout the country.

Homeowners in Powys, Wales, stay put the longest – for 33.1 years – while the most frequent movers live in Midlothian, Scotland, where properties change hands every 14.9 years.

Within London, Tower Hamlets has the highest turnover with homes changing hands every 16 years on average. This compares to Kensington and Chelsea where homeowners stay put for 38 years.

Why is this happening?

Homeowners change address for all kinds of reasons, including to move closer to family, switch jobs, or take their first step onto the property ladder.

But the rate at which people move within Britain can vary hugely from year-to-year, depending on various factors, such as the prevailing economic climate.

For example, the rate of internal migration recorded by both the 1991 and 1981 Censuses was lower than in 2001. In both periods, the country was in the grips of economic recession and people found it much harder to get new jobs or sell their homes.

At present, however, the unemployment rate is low; around 4.3% according to May-July figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, other factors, including affordability issues and a shortage of homes for sale, are impacting the numbers instead. 

Sounds interesting. Tell me more.

Zoopla spokesperson, Lawrence Hall said that regions with a shorter time between house moves could offer better affordability than those areas where properties change hands less regularly.

"I__n Kettering for example, which features fourth on the local authority frequent movers list, the average property is currently valued at £223,041, which is £84,000 less than the UK average."

He added that Dartford, which features in second place, could be home to more frequent movers due to the recent completion of a £90m development and a surge in new-build availability and local investment.

In contrast, regions where homes changed hands less often could suggest a lower level of demand or less housing stock, particularly in rural areas.

  • Are you moving home soon? Try Zoopla's new Move Planner tool, an interactive checklist designed to simplify the process.

How did we do it?

Zoopla worked with property analysts Hometrack to calculate the average time between house moves by dividing the total private dwelling stock levels (ONS data) by the number of total property sales in 2016 (Land Registry data).

Only locations with over 1,000 total sales in 2016 were included and London boroughs were analysed separately.

Top 3 takeaways

  • The average Brit now moves home every 23 years
  • Homes in Midlothian, Scotland, change hands every 15 years
  • Powys, Wales, residents stay in their property the longest, moving every 33 years 

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