Remortgaging softens valuations fall

Over the year to November total valuations were down by just 1% despite market activity being significantly boosted at the end of 2009 by the surge of buyers looking to buy before the end of the stamp duty holiday.

November’s rise in remortgage activity was the fourth monthly boost in a row and showed a year on year increase of 92% - albeit from a low base. Remortgaging now accounts for 23% of Connells’ valuations – the highest proportion since December 2008.

Ross Bowen, managing director of Connells Survey and Valuation, said: “Last November saw an increase in first time buyers looking to get a foot on the property ladder before the end of the stamp duty holiday. Despite the lack of such an incentive this year, market activity has remained reasonably robust so far. This has been driven lately by the continuing improvement in the number of people looking to remortgage, but we expect the seasonal slowdown to kick in from now on.”

Both first-time buyer activity and the number of homeowners moving property dipped slightly in November, with the number of valuations falling by 11% and 3% respectively. This represented falls of 12% and 25% compared to October 2009.

Bowen added: “Availability of competitively priced 90% LTV mortgages and tighter lending criteria remain key obstacles to re-invigorating the housing market, with the consequence that thousands of frustrated buyers are having to rent for longer.

“But confidence is also an issue. Some homeowners do have an eye on the direction of house prices although it is pleasing that many are seeing that it remains a great time take advantage of the increased choice of properties on the market.”

The number of valuations for buy-to-let slowed slightly in November too, falling by 5%, although November’s activity represented a 52% increase on last November.