December was the stand-out performer, with a 52% more valuations than the same month of 2008, reflecting a growth in confidence in the housing market – a stark contrast compared to the end of 2008.
This trend follows a trough in valuation activity in the first half of the year, compared to 2008. In January alone, valuation numbers were down nearly 60% on January 2008.
Ross Bowen, managing director of Connells Survey & Valuation, said: "The summer of 2009 was a marked turning point for the housing market, as demand for valuations increased beyond last year’s levels. Despite the difficult mortgaging conditions, the valuations market demonstrated its resilience – ending 2009 on a much firmer footing than 2008.
"But while the news is more encouragng, 2010 will undoubtedly present many challenges. Doubts still persist over issues such as the timing and impact of the general election, the effect of removing the £175k stamp duty exemption, and trends in the wider economy. We did clearly see a more positive trend in the second half of last year as house prices started to rise and confidence strengthened in the market. We expect to see the market continue to improve in 2010, with further modest growth in the number of housing transactions and surveys conducted."
The upsurge in valuation activity has been spearheaded by first-time buyers and home movers. In 2009, there were 10% more valuations for homeowners conducted than 2008, and 15% more for first time buyers.
However, recovery continues to be hampered by difficult borrowing conditions. Valuations for remortgages have been worst affected, with 68% fewer undertaken than in 2008. The latest CML data shows that the value of remortgage lending from January to November totalled just a third of that in the same period for 2008.
Bowen said: "Remortgages have been hit hard as a result of monetary policy and mortgage lenders having to tighten their purse strings for the better part of 2009 and we’ve felt the knock-on effects. But – the impact of low remortgaging levels has been cushioned by increased activity from first-time buyers and homeowners.
"With some improvement in confidence, home purchase is now back on the agenda for many people who stayed put during the difficult times. In addition, many first-time buyers see this as a good time to purchase their first property. Provided lenders continue to make more mortgage funding available to customers and the economic backdrop improves further, the path to recovery in the valuations – and wider housing – market will continue."
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