Connells has reported a 25% surge in the number of valuations on residential housing in March compared to February.
Figures from Connells showed that the number of valuations conducted in Q1 2010 rose 15% on the previous quarter, following two consecutive month-on-month rises.
An increase in first-time buyer activity has driven the growth in valuations during Q1, with 10% more FTBs requesting valuations than during Q4 2009 and a 12% month-on-month increase in March. FTB quarterly figures were only 16% down on 2008.
This growth came despite a three-month lull in Stamp Duty relief offered to FTBs by the Government, with the £175,000 stamp duty holiday ending on 31 December and the £250,000 threshold starting on 25 March. Buyer confidence continues to grow, with valuations for current homeowners looking to move rising 14% quarter-on-quarter and up a third in March compared to February.
Buy-to-let and remortgage valuation business in Q1 also saw healthy increases, up 19% and 38% respectively compared to the previous quarter. However, this was from a low base, with both sectors still affected by the lack of readily available mortgage finance. Remortgaging valuations were less than a third of March 2008 levels, while BTL was 5% down on the same period.
Ross Bowen, managing director of Connells Survey and Valuation, said: "The surge in valuation activity is great to see and reinforces evidence of the continuing recovery of the housing market. Despite uncertainty with the economy and post election impact on the housing market, we are seeing more buyers hitting the streets looking for homes. We have also yet to see the impact of doubling the threshold of the stamp duty tax for first-time buyers. However, I expect the positive trend in the valuations market to continue in the longer term."