First-timers lead January valuation spree

First-timers are returning faster than any other type of customer, as 35% more valuations were made last month compared to January 2013.

John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation, attributed the surge to the popularity of Help to Buy and a growing confidence in the market across all sectors.

Valuations activity increased by 37% in all sectors from December, 33% higher than January last year.

He said: “A certain New Year jump is normal – but this January has felt more like a stampede. The seasonal rebound between December and January has been significantly stronger than we usually experience.”

Remortgaging activity saw the second fastest monthly growth, with valuations increasing by 31% compared to December.

The remortgage sector is now the fastest growing annually, with valuations 56% higher than the year before.

Bagshaw said there is a sense of urgency in the remortgage market due to the prospect of mortgage rates rising.

He added: “The next couple of months will remain busy for those hoping to catch the best fixed rates on the market.

“For many households, some of the best deals will be found before the end of April – when new, tighter regulations come into force in the form of the Mortgage Market Review.”

Buy-to-let and homemover made relatively slower progress, with valuations increasing by 29% and 28% between December and January.

Bagshaw said homeowners looking to upscale would be the exception to the rule until salaries rise in line with house prices.

He concluded: “Current weather conditions might still be causing havoc, but the housing market is feeling the full warmth of spring. Monthly conditions are still variable, but the economic climate is going the right way. Certainly, the ice age of the last seven years has well and truly thawed – and this is finally reflected in a flourishing housing market.”