Property valuations up by a third

The total number of valuations conducted in November saw annual growth of 33%, despite a 5% monthly seasonal slowdown when compared to October.

John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation, said: “Despite a slight monthly dip, progress since the start of the year has truly transformed the housing market, and cautious optimism for 2014 seems more appropriate than most would have hoped for even a few months ago.

“Activity is pumping through the arteries of the property market once again. Both phases of Help to Buy are now having some impact, and economic life is seeping back – even to the outer corners of the UK.”

The fastest annual growth was in remortgaging activity, up by 65% since November 2012. Remortgaging has also increased on a monthly basis, up by 1% since October, in defiance of the seasonal trend.

Bagshaw said: “Lower mortgage payments are helping millions with their monthly finances. Remortgaging has boomed for the last year – partly as better deals with lower rates have entered the market, and partly as many households look for ways to cut monthly costs and make ends meet.

“As we approach the New Year, the question on everybody’s lips is how long mortgage rates can stay so low. But all indications from lenders are that it will be some time before monthly payments start to rise. In the meantime, remortgaging is helping many households achieve the relative security of fixed-rate packages.”

First-time buyer activity was the section with the second fastest annual growth. Valuations on behalf of first-time buyers outnumbered November 2012 by 40%, despite a 7% slowdown compared to October.

Meanwhile, valuations for existing homeowners looking to move have seen annual growth of 16% after a monthly drop of 8% from October.

Bagshaw added: “The property ladder is no longer broken. It’s still a difficult climb – but finding a first home and moving up the ladder is finally getting easier.

“There are still stumbling blocks, such as the lag between activity in estate agents’ offices and activity on building sites. But the market for new buyers and second-steppers alike is now alive and kicking.”

Buy-to-let activity saw the sharpest seasonal slowdown, with 11% fewer valuations than in October. However, buy-to-let valuations are still up 10% on last year and 94% ahead of levels seen in 2007.

Bagshaw concluded: “Buy-to-let stands out from the crowd only because of the rip-roaring success of other sectors.

“Yet – while remortgaging has benefitted from Funding for Lending, and a raft of special measures for homebuyers are taking the property market by storm – buy-to-let has shown substantial growth primarily on its own steam.

“While buying a home is more achievable than it has been for years, many still face significant challenges. In the last year, landlords have capitalised on current market conditions by providing homes for those who are still struggling to get onto the property ladder.”