The Inland Revenue suggests that the UK housing market may be coming out of the doldrums.
HMRC figures show that house sales in the UK rose by 5% last year to 932,000 completed sales, up from 885,000 the previous year, and the highest since 2007.
It’s partly down to the Bank of England Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which has increased the flow of mortgage funds and made mortgages cheaper.
Simon Rubinsohn, the chief economist at Rics, told the BBC that the latest figures were encouraging, but with the wider economy still in difficulty, sales would still stay much lower than they were before the start of the banking crisis in 2007.
“What we have had is a decent recovery in the second half of the year, helped by a little more confidence due to the FLS, which has helped give a bit more accessibility to mortgage funds,” he said.
“We think there will be a further increase in activity, with the FLS providing further support along with the Government’s NewBuy scheme.”
The new figures come just after a survey of mortgage lenders by the Bank of England found that lending had risen in the last three months of 2012.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders also reported that new mortgage loans made to the all-important first-time buyer sector rose by 8% in November to 21,700 – a rise of nearly a quarter on the year before, and their highest for nearly three years.