Demand for properties and sales to first-time buyers both hit recent highs in December, according to the NAEA.
The NAEA’s December Housing Market Report showed the number of house hunters rose to 386, but still below the 451 recorded in 2003.
A third of sales in December were to first-time buyers, the highest figure since 2001, and 10% up on November.
The number of properties on member books increased from 39 to 41 in December but overall sales agreed dropped by a quarter from eight in November to six in December per branch.
Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, said: “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. With demand at an all-time December high and sales to first-time buyers at their highest on record, 2016 closed on a positive note following several months of uncertainty.
“However, despite an encouraging December, there remains a clear shortage of homes.
“We await the Government’s housing white paper to see how it intends to tackle this and hope the market continues to improve for both buyers and sellers.”