The number of first-time buyers, who are currently exempt from paying stamp duty on properties up to £250.000, increased in December, according to data released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. There were 18,700 loans advanced, worth £2.3 billion, up 7 per cent by volume and 10 per cent by value, from November.

There was also an increase in the proportion of properties (from 50 per cent to 53 per cent) bought by first-time buyers within the price band currently exempt from stamp duty, making it likely they are beginning to rush through purchases before the concession ends in March.
Lending to movers, however, experienced a seasonal decrease in December from 29,300, worth £4.8 billion, in November to 28,700, worth £4.6 billion.
Overall, December saw an almost unchanged house purchase market from November. House purchasers took out 47,400 loans, worth £6.9 billion, a 1 per cent increase in volume, with no change in the value, from the previous month and 7 per cent up (8 per cent in value) from December 2010.
The number of loans for remortgage however declined 15 per cent (14 per cent by value) from November but the 28,100 loans, worth £3.6 billion, taken out increased by 10 per cent in volume (16 per cent in value) from December 2010 following a low period for remortgaging.
It was a mixed picture for the mortgage market in 2011 as a whole. Remortgage lending increased by 17 per cent from 2010 to £47 billion, while house purchase lending, at £75 billion, was 6 per cent down on the previous year.