Stamp duty changes announced 10 weeks ago have led to the highest number of buyers visiting estate agents in December for a decade, the National Association of Estate Agents has revealed.

The number of house buyers registered in December was on average 360 per branch; the last time December visits were this high was in 2004.

As reported by The Guardian, the NAEA also said that a fifth of agents saw more sales in properties in the £251,000 to £925,000 band, the price bracket where the stamp duty reforms offer the highest savings.

The new stamp duty system now means there are no big leaps in duty and house sales will no longer cluster just under each of the thresholds.

NAEA managing director Mark Hayward said: “December is typically a quieter month for the property market. However it would seem prospective home buyers have been left feeling encouraged (by the stamp duty reforms), while agents have also reported activity in the middle price mark picking up.

“The changes are obviously in the beginning stages of giving the market the boost it needs, making buying more affordable for many.”

One in 10 agents saw more sales of properties up to £250k, while there was a slight increase in the percentage of sales made to first-time-buyers in December.

A recent report from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that through the 1980s and into the 1990s one in three 16 to 24-year-olds were able to afford to buy their own home, it said, compared to one in 10 today.

Mortgage lenders are starting to free up more funds to target those with a small deposit, having contracted their lending to this sector in recent years.

Lexelle’s Home Buyers Protection Insurance policy is designed to offer specialist protection for policyholders involved in or due to be involved in a residential house purchase.

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