Property viewings increase by 40% in February

Countrywide has recorded modest improvements in the residential housing sector with buyer, tenant and mortgage applications increasing in February.

Property viewings increased by 40% across Countrywide’s network of 1,300 estate agency and lettings offices. Their mortgage broker division reported a 40% increase in mortgage applications during the month with fixed rate applications reaching their highest level since July 2009.

Despite a 47% increase in sales agreed, sales volumes were 4% down on the same period last year.

Lack of property supply remains an area of concern with demand in the private rental sector jumping by 11%. In February 19,000 new tenants registered for rental accommodation.

Grenville Turner, chief executive of Countrywide, the UK’s largest property services group, said:

“We are beginning to see some early signs of improvement in the property market, whether this can be sustained against a backcloth of challenging economic conditions is difficult to determine.

“The reintroduction of competitive mortgage products is the key to turn the increase in buyer activity we’ve seen into house sales.

“Ongoing economic pressures and the upward trajectory of inflation will increase pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates at some stage, which is why we’re seeing an ever-increasing number of people applying for fixed rate products to give themselves the certainty of mortgage payments for between two and five years.”