Demand from prospective house-hunters rose by more than a third (37%) in January, NAEA Propertymark’s Housing Report found.
Agents registered 268 per branch in December compared to 367 in January, the highest figure since September 2017, when there were 394 registered per estate agent branch.
Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark said: “As we usually see in January, buyers and sellers have re-entered the market after the festive slow-down and triggered an uplift in the number of sales agreed.
“While this is good news for the market generally, the increased competition seems to have affected first-time buyers, who generally have less bargaining power when it comes to bidding for properties.”
In line with rising demand, January saw an influx of sellers marketing their properties – the supply of available properties increased to 36 per branch on average, from 33 in December.
Increased competition moving into 2018 looks to be affecting first-time buyers with sales falling to 27% in January, from 32% in December.
Hayward added: “Our members have noticed first-time buyers holding off on making purchases typically outside of London, and saving for longer to maximise the full stamp duty relief.
“They’re skipping the ‘first time home’ and moving straight onto their second homes, to avoid growing out of their property in four or five years and facing the cost of stamp duty. This is a smart move and an example of how FTBs are making legislation work to their advantage.”