Increased remortgaging and buy-to-let activity saw the mortgage market end 2010 on a high, new research has revealed.
The total number of residential property valuations conducted in December rose by 2% year-on-year, according to Connells Survey and Valuation.
The increase is even more impressive given the figures reported at the end of 2009 were boosted by the flurry of first time buyers rushing to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday.
Remortgaging valuations soared by 88% compared with December 2009, while buy-to-let activity was up 53% on the same basis.
"The increased level of remortgaging compared to a year ago shows there are signs of life in the mortgage market as borrowers once again seek to lock into increasingly attractive fixed rate products," said Paul Staley, the surveyor's corporate services director.
"We are starting to see greater competition amongst lenders as they fight for market share – a factor missing over the past couple of years, which is a positive sign for the health of the market."
A rise in the number of property investors entering the buy-to-let market has also been credited with playing a crucial role in the resilience of the December housing market.
"The valuations market has been bolstered by continued growth in buy-to-let investment," added Mr Staley.
"More attractive buy-to-let products are entering the mortgage market, and one in seven of our valuations now are for prospective landlords looking to take advantage of improving yields and fast rising rents in the private rental sector."
However, the research found that first time buyers continue to experience difficulties breaking into the property market, with first time buyer activity dropping again last month.
"Constrained lending means first time buyers still face a tough challenge getting onto the property ladder," said Mr Staley.
"We're going to need to see more co-ordinated action from the market if we are going make a real difference for first-timers this year."
If you're a first time buyer, thinking of remortgaging or are interested in the buy-to-let mortgage market, we have all the latest and greatest mortgage deals in our best buy charts.
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