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Housing activity enjoys February bounceFebruary saw a housing market revival with a 50% leap in valuations on January, according to the latest research from Connells Survey and Valuation.

Home movers and first-time buyers were particularly active, with valuations activity at 59% and 52% respectively.

But the market is still slower than 12 months ago, with total valuations down 4% year-on-year.

John Bagshaw, corporate services director Connells, said: "After an extended period of fairly subdued activity it is encouraging to see the market shake off its winter blues.

"It is especially positive that all the sectors posted big gains.

"The first quarter is normally a strong one so after a relatively weak January it is reassuring to see February come back so strongly."

The sunnier economic outlook and record low mortgage rates have boosted activity among home movers, he said.

First-time buyer activity reached an eight-month high in February and Bagshaw, said: "The market always likes to see a lot of fresh newcomers enter the scene.

"The rebound in first-time buyer activity will give the market a spring in its step as the seasonally cooler winter market comes to an end.

"To put this rise in perspective the last time the sector saw such a boost in activity was in the rush before the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) stopped mortgage funding at the end of January 2014."

Bagshaw said the recently announced Starter Homes project should provide more additional support to the sector.

"Although the scheme is fairly moderate in size it provides a welcome sign that the government is keen not to be seen to turn its back on first time buyers."

The number of buy-to-let valuations climbed 41% in February, following a time of 37% in January.

That was the only sector to post an annual increase in activity, up 8% year-on-year.

Bagshaw added: "Continued weak inflation has further dampened fears of an upcoming hike in interest rates.

"As a result we're seeing increasing confidence among both lenders and borrowers alike as low mortgage rates carry on posing attractive deals.

"While inflation remains low we expect the sector to continue to thrive."

Remortgage activity grew 50% in February, but this was the weakest sector year-on-year, down 10%.

Bagshaw said: "Remortgaging has picked up significantly compared to last month as borrowers take advantage of competitive deals.

"For borrowers looking to cut their monthly costs there are still plenty of options out there, as the combination of low interest rates and price wars between lenders are helping to drive competition."


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