First-time buyer activity increased in November, according to latest research from Connells Survey & Valuation.
The total number of first-time buyer valuations carried out in November 2015 was 31% higher than in November 2014. This increase was two percentage points above the annual increase the overall housing market activity experienced and 26 percentage points greater than the year-on-year increase for home mover activity.
On a monthly basis, first-time buyer activity rose by 2% between October and November 2015.
John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation, said: “After a few months of relatively steady growth, first-time buyers have at last started to shine amid an already strong housing market. There are a number of reasons for this. For a start, many first-time buyers may be eager to get on the housing ladder now to avoid any potential rate rise by the Bank of England in the New Year. While any increase to the base rate will likely be slight, it could be enough to persuade cash-limited and price-sensitive first-time buyers to act sooner rather than later.
“First-time buyers are also looking to take advantage of Government-backed schemes such as Help-to-Buy while they last. Although the government has given no clear indication these packages will end anytime soon, they could be gradually phased out as housing market confidence continues to improve. These two factors are reinforced by an economy that currently boasts a golden combination of growth, low inflation and rising household incomes – an appealing economic environment for typically cautious first-time buyers.”
The buy-to-let market experienced similarly strong, if less pronounced, annual growth, with activity in the sector up 26% between November 2014 and November 2015. The strong performance comes despite the market contracting slightly – by 4% – on a monthly basis.
Valuation activity for all purposes also remains strong, climbing 29% between November 2014 and November 2015, while registering no change compared to last month.
Bagshaw said: “The buy-to-let sector continues to be an attractive proposition for property investors. But while the prospect of high returns is driving some of the activity in this sector, much of the energy is also being fueled by a desire to out-maneouvre the Treasury’s attempts to take more money from buy-to-let business. With the Chancellor imposing more fees and regulations on landlords in his most recent Autumn Statement, many would-be landlords are hurrying to get into the market before these changes kick in from April next year.
“The housing market’s overall performance remains positive. All sectors are reporting healthy yearly growth – a reflection of a positive combination of economic growth, rising consumer confidence and improving real-terms wages.”
The remortgaging market continues to expand rapidly on an annual basis, with the number of remortgaging valuations carried out in November 2015 representing a 46% increase on November of last year, while also representing a 5% increase on October 2015.
However, progress for the home mover market was more gradual. Valuation activity for those seeking to progress further up the ladder grew by 5% between November 2015 and November 2014, while the sector experienced a month-on-month contraction of 8%.
Bagshaw added: “The remortgaging sector is rapidly gaining a reputation as the stalwart of the housing market – and this month was no exception. Home-owners are as keen as ever to take advantage of the low rates to either get a better mortgage deal or release equity on their current property in order to renovate it.
“The strong sentiment currently among home-owners in favour of improving rather than moving goes some way to explain why fewer property owners have been opting to progress up the property ladder. Some may also be finding the festive period a particularly stretched one when it comes to finances and so are choosing to wait until the New Year when their capital flows are steadier. But despite a somewhat quiet month for home movers, it’s been a period of festive cheer for the rest of the housing market.”