UK housing market activity has risen to its highest level in six months, according to the latest research from Connells Survey & Valuation.
As of September, the total number of property valuations has reached a six-month high, and the second-highest monthly level on record. September saw just 0.5% fewer valuations carried out than in March 2015 – which was the highest on record.
On an annual basis, total valuation activity is up 29% compared to September 2014, after a 23% month-on-month rebound since August 2015.
John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation, said: “Britain’s housing market is going from strength to strength. Against a brightening economic background, players in all parts of the market are feeling more confident about their prospects. Valuation activity is growing beyond the seasonal pick-up at the end of August, with year-on-year growth gathering momentum.”
The number of valuations carried out specifically for first-time buyers rose by 25% in September compared to the previous month of August. The figure also represents an 18% increase compared to September 2014.
Valuation activity among established home-movers performed even better. The number of valuations carried out for those moving house rose 26% when compared to last month and 23% since September 2014.
Bagshaw said: “First-time buyers aren’t just feeling more confident, they are now following this up with real action – and contributing a good portion of growth in the UK housing market.
“There are no signs yet that schemes such as Help-to-Buy are going to be phased out, helping to suppress the barriers to setting a first foot on the ladder. Meanwhile, wages are growing faster than inflation and purchase prices have cooled a little in recent months – all contributing to an acceleration in numbers of first time buyers. Moreover, the latest focus from the government on starter homes is a promising sign there is at least a strong intention to maintain support at the bottom of the ladder.
“Home-movers have also been buoyed by the same trends. Rising real-term wages combined with steadily increasing property values mean that many of those who are already fortunate enough to have a place of their own feel it’s a great time to buy.”
Remortgaging experienced another stand-out month, the firm said. The number of valuations for those thinking of taking a fresh mortgage out against the value of their current home rose 16% on August of this year and 49% since September 2014.
Meanwhile, the buy-to-let sector has seen steadier growth, with the number of valuations growing 13% since September last year. On a monthly basis, valuations activity carried out on behalf of buy-to-let investors grew by 21% compared to August.
Bagshaw concludes: “The remortgaging sector is continuing to power ahead – with plenty of people still opting to improve added than move. High demand in this sector is still being driven by the large number of good mortgage deals out there, as homeowners rush to capitalise on the value of their home, while it’s still relatively cheap to do so.
“Meanwhile landlords are proving resilient. Many thought the buy-to-let market might be in full retreat after a Summer Budget aimed at clamping down on the sector. But most investors’ panic was short-lived as they realised that the fundamentals of buy-to-let’s profitability – namely, large demand from tenants and low mortgage rates – were still in place. Far from being a drag, the sector capped off what has been a very good month for total valuations.”