Brian Murphy, Head of Lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB), comments:
“There was a rush of buyers hitting the property market as 2015 came to a close, with RICS data showing a three-month high in demand in December. Looming stamp duty changes will be at the forefront of many buyers’ minds looking to purchase a buy-to-let investment or second home. This sprint to beat the 3 per cent tax hike is likely to continue to cause heightened demand in the coming months.
“As well as new entrants to the market, activity has also been stoked by homeowners cashing in on the rising value of their home to climb to the next rung of the property ladder.
“According to HMRC, housing transactions reached a near two-year high in December, with this level of activity in a single month not seen since February 2014. Lenders have also shown further confidence in the market, with an annual rise in gross lending of over 8 per cent to help satisfy the appetites of hungry borrowers.
“However, this growth is being built on shaky foundations. With scarce new homes being brought into the market, housing transactions are largely dependent on homeowners moving and selling their homes.
“Property turnover has slowed significantly in recent years, and this is an unsustainable path for a housing market which urgently needs an increase in the construction of new homes.”