Housing market activity in the UK increased by 8% in December 2016 year on year with the first time buyer market seeing growth of 26%, the latest research data shows.
This was also an increase of 40% compared with December 2014, according to the report from Connells Survey and Valuation, with confidence levels recovered from any post referendum downturn.
Overall, the number of valuations conducted for those selling property increased by 25% year and year with activity among those looking to remortgage up by 19%. The buy to let sector, however, has had a turbulent year with valuations contracting 26% on an annual basis.
‘The housing market has been recovering since September and had a great December. Compared to 2015 it looks good, compared to December 2014 it looks exceptional,’ said John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey and Valuation .
‘First time buyers and people selling property have regained much of the confidence they lost in the wake of the Brexit vote. With interest rates still at record lows, many buyers are taking the opportunity to buy property that would have been regarded as a bargain at that price just a couple of years ago,’ he explained.
He pointed out that in August the base rate was cut to 0.25%, the first adjustment in over seven years and this led to lower mortgage rates which has fueled the remortgaging sector. He believes that first time buyers have also taken full advantage of government led schemes and incentives such as Help to Buy which have done a great deal for affordability.
He also pointed out that the comparison between December 2016 and December 2014 illustrates the longer term trend across the wider market. While overall activity is up 40%, the volume of property sellers is up 32% and activity in the first time buyer segment is up 50%. Remortgage activity is up 68% as consumers have taken advantage of mortgage deals and even activity in the buy to let segment is up 13% on December 2014.
‘Looking back over the year, the market has regained a great deal of its strength with consumers’ confidence on the mend. Rates are low and employment is high and the buy to let market’s loss has been owner occupiers gain as those looking to get on the ladder or trade-up have been left facing less competition for the properties they want to buy,’ Bagshaw concluded.