New research by a valuations firm has revealed that the UK housing market witnessed healthy growth in March.
This was driven by a surge in first-time buyer activity, with the number of valuations for this demographic rising by 41% compared to February 2016 and 15% compared to March last year.
The total number of valuations carried out in March grew 8% year-on-year and rose by nearly a quarter (21%) when compared to February of this year.
As we said before, this was mostly to do with the first-time buyer sector posting such strong monthly and yearly growth figures.
The excellent performance from the first-time buyer market helped to soften the blow of reduced buy-to-let activity in the lead-up to April 1 – when the additional 3% stamp duty surcharge on second homes came into force.
The total number of valuations carried out for buy-to-let investors fell 36% on a yearly basis and 27% on a quarterly one. This, though, is expected to be a short-term shock as investors adapt to the new landscape and reassess their options.
Government initiatives to help first-time buyers – particularly younger ones – onto the property ladder and an improving economic outlook have both helped to increase activity.
As well as Help to Buy, there has also been the announcement of the Lifetime ISA and an increase in the number of shared ownership schemes.
Special first-time buyer discounts on certain properties are also playing a part, helping those on lower incomes to bridge the affordability gap and dip their toes in the property market for the first time.
A few months ago first-time buyers were badly struggling to get their hands on a property, now that process would appear to be getting slightly easier.
That is good news for property sellers, of course. More first-time buyers entering the market increases the pool of buyers that you as a seller can market to.
Rather than young people being put off buying their first home by media scare stories and high house prices, the rise in first-time buyer activity and the greater success of government schemes may give them cause to think again.
Sellers need to pounce on this extra interest, targeting properties appropriately and making sure they stand out from the crowd.
So, whether it's a first-time buyer or a buy-to-let investor who has assessed their options and is now ready to invest again – buoyed by the still high yields and capital returns on offer in the rental market – sellers will have plenty of prospective buyers to sell to in the current spring market.
As a result, it's vital that you are prepared. It's essential that your marketing and sales strategies are in order and that you're ready to conduct viewings at the drop of a hat. If you're not, the competition could be in there before you to take advantage.