According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which asks valuers to give their opinion on the housing market, the increase in activity was seen at a national level.
Furthermore sales are expected to continue rising across all regions of the UK in the near term and over the coming year. Surveyors also reported a higher number of property valuations in January than during the same month a year ago, the first time this has been positive since the measure was introduced in 2017.
The number of homes available to buy, however, remains low following a long period of falling levels of properties being marketed for sale. This is expected to put upward pressure on house prices.
The national price net balance rose to +17 per cent last month. This means that 17 per cent more surveyors reported an increase in prices rather than a decrease. It is the first time the price net balance has been positive since July 2018.
National house price rises were underpinned by growth in London and the South East, where more surveyors reported price rises than decreases for the first time in a few years.
In the lettings market, demand for rental properties rose in the three months to January with a net balance of +24 per cent of respondents citing an increase. Meanwhile, landlord instructions fell for the fifteenth successive quarter. Given this sustained mismatch between rising demand and falling supply, rents are expected to rise in the next three months, with respondents anticipating rents to rise by a little over 2 per cent in the year ahead.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The rise in new sales instructions coming onto the market is a noteworthy and much needed development, given the lack of fresh listings over the past few years had pushed stock levels to record lows. It remains to be seen how long this newfound market momentum is sustained for, and political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year. But, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next twelve months.”
Sales director of OneSavings Bank Adrian Moloney said: “With the upcoming budget in March, buyers and sellers will be looking for tangible commitments from the government to address the dwindling levels of housing stock.
“House building must be central to the government’s plans in order to cure the systemic supply and demand issue and enable more people to get onto, and move up and down the property ladder.”