London first-time buyer volumes stay flat
There were 10,700 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in London in the fourth quarter of 2017, equivalent to the same quarter of 2016, UK Finance figures show.
The average first-time buyer in the capital has an income of £66,000.
Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “Subdued growth in the number of first-time buyers shows that affordability remains a challenge in the capital.
“Help to Buy can support first-time buyers when purchasing new build homes, and it will be important for the government to clarify its plans for the future of this scheme well before it ends in 2021.”
There were 14,500 new homeowner remortgages in London completed in the fourth quarter, some 9.8% more than in the same quarter a year earlier.
Meanwhile there were 7,700 new home mover mortgages completed in London in the fourth quarter of 2017, 8.5% more than in the same quarter of 2016.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RCS residential chairman, said: “Disappointingly, it seems that first-time buyers are not taking full advantage of their improved competitiveness over landlords who are struggling with tax and regulatory changes, particularly when it comes to the small flat and house end of the market.
“In our branches, we are finding much more interest from first-time buyers than these figures suggest. Their importance can’t be overstated as first-time buyers are the lifeblood of the housing market.
“However, what may be needed is more encouragement to persuade them to buy and make a more significant difference to the numbers who are able to do so, as many still have worried about affordability.
“It is no surprise that remortgaging numbers are so strong with mortgage rates at record lows and concerns about the possibility of a rate rise – which came in November – and the chance of another in coming months.”
In November Chancellor Philip Hammond cut stamp duty for first-time buyers on purchases up to £300,000.
Nick Chadbourne, chief executive of LMS, said: “The remortgage market in London has reached an eight-year high and, with the Bank of England hinting at further rises in the base rate, we would anticipate this trend will continue as borrowers look to fix in to deals and protect themselves against future increases, even though mortgage rates remain low by historical standards.
“While the Chancellor’s exemption of the lower-bands of stamp duty and the record-availability of high LTV mortgage products for first-time buyers has had a significant impact in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, London’s high property prices are still hampering the efforts of the majority of first-time buyers in the capital.”