First-time buyers up 45pc

Sam Cordon

September 6, 2013

There were 26,100 first-time buyer sales in July, 8,100 more than twelve months ago. It was the highest number of first-time buyers since November 2007, indicating the improvement in the first-time buyer market is gathering even more momentum.

A sharp increase in the affordability of mortgages drove the improvement. The average mortgage rate fell from 4.92% in July last year, to 3.99% this year, attracting more buyers to the market.

Rates have now fallen every month for the last year, as banks are passing cheap credit from Funding for Lending onto borrowers.

The cheaper rates meant that mortgages were more affordable for first-time buyers. The proportion of income represented by mortgage repayments fell year-on-year from 21.6% to 20.4%.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, said: “Mortgages are much more affordable for first-time buyers compared to last year, which has opened the door to thousands of would-be buyers who were shut out of the market.

“Economic confidence is returning, nudging many more buyers in the direction of property, and nudging lenders to offer more loans to buyers with smaller deposits.

“Rates have fallen sharply, and there are good deals to be had for savvy first-time buyers, which has made a mortgage much easier to come by.”

But Newnes warned that there are warning signs ahead with rapidly rising house prices threatening to price the next wave of first-time buyers out of the market.

Deposits now represent a far greater proportion of the income of a first-time buyer, and are rising.

The average deposit is now equal to 83.1% of annual income, up 5.0% on July last year – slowing the pace of the recovery in first-time buyer lending.

This was a result of rising house prices, which have pushed average deposits skyward, despite banks’ willingness to lend to those with a smaller deposit size.

The average purchase price for a first-time buyer rose by 8% year-on-year in July, and is now £146,726.

This was 0.3% higher compared than in June, when the average purchase price was £146,250 and 6.0% higher than the average price so far this year, which was £138,353.

And the average LTV for a first-time buyer remained broadly flat – down 0.4% year-on-year to 79.5% in July, and down just 0.1% from June.

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