The new Housing Market Activity Report by Connells Survey and Valuation revealed this week that the UK mortgage market has had its strongest start to a year since 2008. The report showed that the number of surveyors’ valuations for properties destined for the housing market was 10 per cent higher in the first quarter of 2012 than it was for the previous quarter and 34 per cent greater than the same period the previous year. For first-time buyers, there was a 35 per cent increase in Q1 of 2012 compared to 2011, although in March they stood for only 29 per cent of all property valuations carried out that month, compared to 35 per cent in February. Valuations for homeowners seeking mortgages to move house in the first quarter of the year increased by 25 per cent compared to Q1 2011, and March’s activity for this subset was 26 per cent higher compared to last March. Connells Survey and Valuation corporate services director John Bagshaw commented: The rush to complete before the end of the Stamp Duty holiday provided a leg up to the valuations market in the first quarter of the year, but first-timers were by no means the only group to benefit. The increasing number of first-timers freed up property chains, allowing existing homemovers to move up the ladder. Weve also seen a strong demand from buyers looking to move early, ahead of the disruption of the Olympics and the Jubilee in the summer, which has supported activity in March.