Skipton Building Society has reported a 129% increase in profit before tax, from £118.8m in 2020 to £271.8m in 2021.

Skipton, the UK’s fourth largest building society, also saw its membership rise to 1,082,997 last year.

Its estate agency business, Connells, also completed the acquisition of Countrywide plc, which combined to deliver dividends totalling £60m to the building society. Connells’ profit before tax increased by £59.5m to £111.3m, with the enlarged business seeing property exchanges 175% higher than in 2020, and buyer registrations up 38% on the previous year.

Skipton said that the strong housing market, supported by low interest rates and competitive mortgage products, boosted by Stamp Duty Land Tax relief, had driven increased sales across the enlarged Connells group, and led to record mortgage completions in excess of £5bn, including record lending to first-time buyers.

This performance has seen Skipton achieve a mortgage portfolio of over £23bn and lending that accounts for 2% of the growth in the UK residential mortgage market compared to Skipton’s 1.4% share of UK residential mortgage balances.

Skipton also said that it was able to provide 30,282 mortgages in 2021, including 7,893 to first-time buyers.

“Today’s results present a significant improvement from 12 months ago, when, despite reporting good profits, our results were a clear indication of the challenging times the UK faced in the midst of a global pandemic… 2021 was a remarkable year for Skipton as all of our people continued to support our customers at the moments that matter, regardless of what the ongoing pandemic threw at everyone,” David Cutter, chief executive of the Skipton Group, said.