As the deadline for stamp duty purchases before the 3% surcharge passed last night, it has been reported that investors have taken the market by storm in order to take advantage of the lower tax rates.
The National Association of Estate Agents' (NAEA) latest housing market report shows that during February some 85% of estate agents reported an increase in buy-to-let investor activity.
This is an increase on January's figure, when 72% of agents surveyed by the association said they had seen a surge in buy-to-let purchasers.
The NAEA says that this increased investor activity pushed housing demand to its highest level for 12 years in February.
It reports that there were an average 463 house hunters registered per member branch – the highest since August 2004 when 582 were registered per branch.
This is following an increase in January when estate agents reported 453 per branch, the highest since July 2015.
The number of properties available per branch increased marginally from 33 in January to 35 in February, as the number of sales agreed per branch in February increased too.
There were an average nine sales completed in February, back to the level seen in October 2015 and a rise from eight sales agreed per branch in January.
“We’ve seen a real sense of urgency from landlords trying to complete on sales ahead of the stamp duty reforms– which now come into force,” says Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA.
“However, the mounting pressure and increased demand for housing has meant that first time buyers have had to compete with landlords for property and as a result they have lost out.”
“The crux of the problem though is that there is still a huge issue with supply and until we build more homes, and crucially the right sort of homes, we cannot fool ourselves into thinking we are doing enough to help people buy their own home,” he says.