The number of residential valuations conducted in January increased by 43% year-on-year, although it fell by 15% on a monthly basis after a strong December.
The annual increase was largely driven by first-time buyer activity, with the number of valuations for first-time buyers up 52% year-on-year in January.
Although this represented a 2% monthly decline, first-time buyers grew as a proportion of the market in January to account for 32% of all valuations, the highest proportion since June 2011.
John Bagshaw, corporate services director at Connells Survey and Valuation, says: “A comparison against the strongest December since the downturn masks the underlying strength of the valuations market in January.
“There has been a strong uplift in first-time buyer activity, with new buyers rushing to beat the end of the Stamp Duty holiday in March. In turn, this has unlocked activity further up property chains.
“While the flurry of first-time buyer activity is likely to subside slightly after March, the introduction of the government’s NewBuy scheme may help sustain buyer demand in the longer-term.”
The data also shows that remortgage valuations rose by 48% in January year-on-year, but fell by 17% on a monthly basis.
Remortgaging accounted for 26% of all valuations in January, the highest level since October 2008.
Bagshaw adds: “Increasing product choice, alongside stubbornly low mortgage rates, has helped sustain the remortgage market.
“While an interest rate rise doesn’t look on the horizon this year, many borrowers are looking to cash-in on cheap fixed rates while they can to provide long-term financial security in the face of an uncertain outlook for the economy.”