The housing market ended 2016 on a positive note, according to the latest report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
The organisation reports that in December the prospective number of buyers registered with the average agency branch was 386, up 12% on November's figure.
It also represents the highest level of demand for December since 2003 when the average branch had 451 buyers registered.
Sales to first-time buyers also increased last month to 32% of all transactions, up from 29% in November.
The December figure was the highest since December 2001 and a huge improvement on the 7% recorded in December 2005.
Last month the average agency branch had 41 properties on its books, according to the NAEA's survey of its members. This marks a slight improvement from November when the average supply level was 39 properties per office.
Despite the positive supply and demand figures, the number of sales agreed dropped from eight per branch in November to six per branch in December.
“In November we saw a seasonal slowdown; typically it’s uncommon for people to buy and move close to Christmas. Yet, our December findings have completely bucked this seasonal trend,” says Mark Hayward, NAEA managing director.
“Despite an encouraging December, there remains a clear shortage of homes.”
He says the NAEA awaits the government’s delayed housing White Paper to see how it intends to tackle the supply/demand imbalance.