for sale signsFirst Time Buyers made the most of the Stamp Duty exemption pushing property sales to their highest level in four months in February.

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) market report showed an increase in the number of sales across the UK, with an average of seven sales per branch for the month, up from six in January and the highest since eight sales a month in October 2011.


Budget cuts

The estate agents were quick to point out that they felt the tax exemption was working and should not have been scrapped by the Chancellor in his budget.

The proportion of sales made to first time buyers remained on par with January at 23%. NAEA agents cited the imminent end of the Stamp Duty holiday for properties under £250,000 as a key reason for continued buyer interest from this section of the market.


Supply levels across the country increased slightly with NAEA agents reporting an average 63 properties available per branch, up from 60 in January. But this is still lower than year-on-year figures, with an average 70 properties available in February 2011.

Demand for property also rose during February. On average, the number of house-hunters registering with an agent increased from 260 in January to 293 in February. Compared with year-on-year data, buyer interest is considerably higher than in February 2011, when just 268 house-hunters registered.

Tragedy

NAEA president Wendy Evans-Scott said: "These latest figures show that there is demand for property, especially at the lower end of the market, which, if supported in the right way can lead to increases across supply and sales.

"It is a tragedy to see that the Stamp Duty exemption has now been removed. Not only that, but the Chancellor's Budget announcement last week that a 7% tax rate at the upper end of the market is to be introduced, hits house-hunters at both ends of the spectrum.

"The fragile housing market needs all the assistance it can get to generate sustained growth, but the Chancellor's current policy will certainly dampen hopes of a rapid recovery."



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