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Average rents in London rose last month at their fastest rate in more than two years, official figures show. Estate agents said supply was not keeping up with growing demand from renters unable to afford their own homes, while tax reforms have deterred landlords. Jeremy Leaf predicted the upward pressure on rental prices could continue in 2020. “With seemingly inexorable demand from tenants and aspiring first-time buyers still finding it tough to raise purchasing deposits, this demand is likely to remain strong for some time to come,” he told Yahoo Finance UK.

Buyer enquires increased by 15 per cent between December 2019 and January 2020, Rightmoves latest house price index shows. Average asking prices across the UK rose by 2.3 per cent over the same time frame. Jeremy Leaf told Mortgage Strategy: “Although Rightmove looks at asking rather than selling prices, they provide an important indicator of market activity. Asking prices can be notoriously unreliable, but these confirm what we have been seeing on the ground for the last month or so. Sellers inevitably are a little bit more optimistic at this time of year but it remains to be seen, probably by the end of January/beginning of February, whether these higher prices, much of which is driven by shortage of stock, actually turn into agreed prices and transactions”.

There was a 6.8% annual jump in residential transactions in the UK, according to official figures published this morning by HMRC. Jeremy Leaf told BBC News: "transaction numbers are always a much better indicator of property market health than volatile house prices. These figures are encouraging because they show an increase in transactions in December, up on November and the previous year. While HMRC advises caution and not to get too carried away, it’s certainly a positive, particularly as the impact of the general election is yet to be felt on transaction numbers”.

Annual house price growth across the UK jumped to a 14-month high in January as confidence returned to the housing market following the general election. Jeremy Leaf told The Guardian: “The real test for the market will come in February and March when we will see if that interest translates into higher transaction levels. Prices are likely to continue to be underpinned by a shortage of supply and relatively low levels of housebuilding, while ongoing difficulties trying to raise deposits – evidenced by the struggles still facing first-time buyers – will keep demand in check”.

The number of mortgages being approved to home buyers jumped to its highest level in over two years in December 2019, Bank of England figures show. Jeremy Leaf told AOL Money: “home buyer confidence had been returning since before the election”.