Connells declares first-time buyer ‘frenzy’ in February

Ryan Bembridge

March 15, 2017

The market was dominated by a first-time buyer ‘frenzy’ in February 2017, Connells Survey & Valuation said.

According to Connels first-time buyers took a 36% share of the February market, up from 28% in February last year.

John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation, said: “Continued affordable mortgages have provided first-time buyers with an ideal opportunity to take their first step onto the ladder in February.

The Great Rate Debate

“Lending to aspiring homeowners continues to rise, while the base rate remains so low. For those with enough savings for a deposit, now is a great time to buy. Many are taking advantage of the opportunities on offer.”

Bagshaw went on to stress that first-time buyers are doing well at the expense of future generations.

He added: “The stamp duty surcharge has succeeded in helping first-time buyers at the expense of landlords.

“But this may well be temporary. Less competition for today’s first-time buyers comes at the expense of tomorrow’s.

“Most people rent as they save for a deposit, but the steady investment into the rental market is running dry.

“With limited new homes being built for the PRS, rents will soon start to rise. This will devour tenants’ disposable income which would otherwise have been saved for a deposit.

“The problem will be exacerbated next month as mortgage tax relief is removed, forcing more landlords to exit the market or ramp up rents.”

Despite this apparent surge in first-time buyer activity the 36% market share is only marginally higher than the 10 year average.

In the last decade first-time buyers have been responsible for on average 35% of the market, while they accounted for 41% in February 2010.

Bagshaw said: “The rapid growth in first-time buyer activity is a recovery from a lower position, rather than a substantial improvement in market conditions.

“It’s important to not just look at the snapshot numbers but take into account the long-term trends. It’s still incredibly difficult to get on the property ladder.

“Most aspiring home owners will tell you about the Herculean challenges they face to save for a deposit.”

He added: “Despite all the Help to Buy programmes, first-time buyer activity is only 1% higher than it has been, on average, over the last decade.

“We may be in the eye of the storm in Britain’s housing market – a brief period of calm before the turbulence begins again.

“The base rate can’t stay on the floor forever. With Brexit approaching, economic conditions may get tougher. First-time buyers may need to board the ladder now before it’s hoisted up again.”

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