Last month saw the strongest activity on record for property valuations in any month since 2007, up 36% on a monthly basis and annual growth of 42%, new data shows.
After a 36% increase in activity on a monthly basis, the total number of valuations carried out in March 2015 has grown by 42% compared to March 2014.
First time buyer activity increased by 33% in March compared with the previous month and was up 40% from the same month last year, according to the latest research from Connells Survey and Valuation.
Activity on behalf of those further up the property ladder also saw rapid growth, but at a slower pace than for first time buyers. Valuations on behalf of established home movers picked up by 32% on a monthly basis and by 23% over the last 12 months.
‘New announcements like the Help to Buy ISA have combined with existing government schemes to boost interest from first time buyers. In the short term this is mainly about sentiment, but extra support has been consistently focused at this end of the market for years now, with a longer term impact too,’ said John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation.
The data also shows that remortgaging in March has outperformed the overall housing market, posting 54% growth on an annual basis, following a 33% month on month rise and Bagshaw pointed out that record low interest rates are likely to stay for several more months.
‘Many households with a mortgage that seemed extremely competitive just a few years ago could find it in their interests to refinance, even to the security of a fixed rate. Such a recalibration of the mortgage market is working alongside a resurgent property purchase market to stoke demand for valuations,’ he explained.
‘Of course a little further ahead, there is still the prospect of interest rate rises. In fact deflation caused by a volatile oil price could make a turning point for interest rates more dramatic as and when this occurs. So there is no space for complacency although that isn’t stopping people looking for the best deals,’ he added.
With by far the strongest monthly increase, buy to let activity in March was 54% stronger than in February. This takes the number of valuations carried out on behalf of buy to let landlords to levels 64% ahead of March 2014.
The firm believes that landlords are responding to a pick-up in demand from tenants and a noticeable improvement in rental yields in some hotspots. It’s also possible this is another artefact of a booming jobs market, as people move to take up jobs.
‘Landlords are generally low LTV borrowers who tend to have reliable finances away from their property investments, so for lenders they offer a sound investment in a similar way to many remortgaging cases,’ said Bagshaw.