First time buyers are rushing to beat the forthcoming deadline which will signal the end of the stamp duty holiday, according to new research.
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) said that it saw more first time buyers than at any point in the previous eight months during January – a month when activity is usually dulled.
Almost a quarter (23% of sales) were made to first time buyers during the month, up from 21% in December and the highest seen since May 2011 (24%).
It is the third month in succession that the NAEA has reported a rise in first time buyer numbers.
Figures support the theory that new buyers are trying to finalise their deals before the stamp duty holiday – which exempts first time buyers from the tax on properties worth up to £250,000 – comes to an end on 24 March.
The figures are supported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders' data which on Monday showed that mortgage lending increased by 10% in January, boosted by first time buyers.
NAEA president Wendy Evans-Scott said the association was 'deeply disappointed' with the decision to scrap the scheme.
"The NAEA and other property specialists campaigned hard for the Government to introduce the tax exemption to support first time buyers, and these latest figures certainly suggest that stamp duty is a key factor for those on tight budgets purchasing their first home," she added.
"We are deeply disappointed that Ministers have axed this support for a crucial part of the housing market which has benefited so many house-hunters in getting onto the property ladder."
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