New figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) show a rise in the number of househunters, reaching an average of 282 per branch in December 2012. This represents a 41 per cent increase since their lowest December levels in 2008, and up 7 per cent on November 2012.
Mark Hayward, President of the NAEA said: “December can typically be a challenging month for the property market, as many buyers abandon their search until the New Year. However, last month’s figures show a healthy December boost, and a substantial gain on the mid-recession low of December 2008. Demand is clearly returning to areas of the market, and agents are seeing more house hunters looking for their ideal home.”
Brendan Cox, Managing Director of Waterfords estate agents said: “Lack of supply has been a definite trend so far this year. We can report a record number of valuations during the first month of 2013 however some consumers are not following through and putting their property on the market. As a result, there remains to be a shortage of stock. We are certainly with the majority of agents who are optimistic that volumes will grow in the next few months as households begin to act upon the news of lending conditions and an overall improved market.”
The NAEA figures also suggest that the percentage of sales made to first time buyers dropped slightly in December, with agents reporting 21 per cent of market share in compared with 22 per cent in November.
However, earlier this month the Council of Mortgage Lenders said their figures showed first time buyers were driving the 6 per cent rise in the number of loans for house purchases. Their report showed that the number of loans taken out by first-time buyers reached the largest monthly total since the end of 2009 (except for March when the end of the stamp duty holiday boosted activity).
A total of 21,700 loans were given to first-time buyers in November 2012, worth £2.7 billion, representing an 8 per cent rise compared to October and up by 24% on November 2011. Moreover, for the second consecutive month, loans to first-time buyers accounted for 41 per cent of all house purchase loans, higher than the usual proportion of around 38 per cent.
Kevin Gibson, Director at Ascot Mortgages said he had noticed a significant increase in applications from first time buyers since the start of the year. believes that “First time buyers are now starting to enter the property market as serious contenders as UK property prices remain subdued, and first time buyers are slowly starting to filter through who have previously found the large deposits required unobtainable.”