Property sales see winter lift, HMRC figures show

Image caption January is traditionally a slow month for house sales in the UK

Property sales in the UK were slightly higher in January than during the same month a year earlier, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures show.

There were 64,490 completed sales during the month, up from 60,530 in January 2012.

This was well down on December, although there is always a drop in the first month of the year.

However, seasonally adjusted data shows that activity was similar to levels in December.

Mortgage difficulties

The figures have already shown that house sales in the UK rose by 5% in 2011 to the highest level since 2007.

The revival has been partly due to the Bank of England's Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which has started to increase the flow of mortgage funds and make mortgages cheaper as well.

But many first-time buyers are still finding it difficult to get a foothold on the property ladder, as lenders demand high deposits.

Figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) earlier in the week showed that any signs of mortgage market revival stuttered in January.

New mortgage lending of £10.4bn in January was down 9% on December, and by 3% compared with January 2012.

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