The number of residential property transactions in December reached 102,330, an increase of 3.6% year-on-year on a seasonally adjusted basis, HMRC property transaction figures showed.
However transactions were down 0.1% from November.
Kevin Roberts, director, Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “The mortgage market is offering more choice and flexibility than ever before; however, transaction levels continue to tell the same story of stagnation.
“Political uncertainty, the cost of moving and barriers such as stamp duty are leading some homeowners to ‘improve, not move.’
“The government’s extension of the Help to Buy scheme and a stamp duty exemption to shared ownership properties will help those further down the ladder, yet there is more work to be done.
“Extending this break to last-time buyers would free up larger properties for growing families, enabling the next generation of homebuyers to step onto or even up the property ladder.”
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, added: “It is a price-sensitive, needs-driven market, especially at this time of year, and continues to be underpinned by low mortgage and unemployment rates, improving affordability and stock shortages. As a result, we have recorded better-than-expected viewings and valuations in January.
“Buyers and sellers who are prepared to negotiate hard are moving on with their lives, even if prices achieved may not suit all.
“Serious sellers need to ensure their homes are realistically priced to attract viewings. If the new stock which typically comes on the market at this time of year is over valued, it will be readily exposed on property portals.
“Some need to recognise that the first offer they receive may be their only offer, however disappointing it may seem.”
Non-adjusted residential transactions were down 11.5% from November and 2.9% year-on-year.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “December tends to be a quieter month for the housing market than much of the rest of the year as attention focuses on the festivities rather than moving house.
“Indecision created by Brexit has also contributed to the fall in transactions as would-be buyers and sellers sit on their hands and take a ‘wait and see’ approach.
“Lenders started this year the way they finished the last one – keen to lend and offering some competitive products to encourage borrowers to take the plunge.
“Those who are in the market for a new mortgage or remortgage will find plenty of attractive deals, with a number of lenders cutting rates in the past couple of weeks.
“We expect pricing to remain low in the coming few weeks as lenders try to get off to a strong start to the year.”