The firm’s latest housing market activity report shows that the number of residential valuations conducted in February was 56% higher than in January and 52% higher than in February 2011.
First-time buyer activity accounted for 35% of all valuations last month, the highest proportion since September 2010.
Overall, the total number of residential valuations in February was up 31% year-on-year and 43% higher compared to January.
John Bagshaw, corporate services director at Connells Survey and Valuation, says: “There’s no doubt that the imminent deadline for the Stamp Duty holiday exemption has been a catalyst for first-time buyer activity.
“But the first-time buyer demand has also been supported by stronger lending figures at the lower end of the market, not to mention mortgage affordability. If this trend continues into the spring, the improvement should help soften the blow of the end of the Stamp Duty holiday in the longer-term.”
The survey also shows that February buy-to-let valuations were 38% higher than the previous month and up 50% year-on-year.
Valuation activity from home movers was up 51% compared to January and up 17% compared to February 2011, while remortgage valuations were up 21% on a monthly basis and 18% year-on-year.
Bagshaw says that remortgage activity has seen consistent annual growth in recent months, despite a base rate rise remaining a distant prospect.
He adds: “And the recent announcement by Halifax that it is increasing its standard variable rate is likely to spark a surge in remortgaging activity as those facing increasing costs take stock of their finances.
“If more lenders join Halifax in raising rates, we may see the remortgaging market kick-up a gear in coming months as borrowers look to lock-in to favourable long-term fixed or tracker rates.”