Tue 06 Jan 2015 View all news articles

Number of first time buyers in UK rises for third successive year

The number of first time buyers in the UK increased by more than a fifth in 2014, the third successive annual rise, new data shows.

The 22% rise was similar to the 23% rise recorded in 2013, according to the annual Halifax First Time Buyer Review.

There were an estimated 326,500 first time buyers in 2014, up from 268,500 in 2013, the highest annual total since 2007 and was 70% higher than in 2008. The data also shows that first time buyers increased their share of all house purchases made with a mortgage, accounting for 46%1 in 2014, up from 44% in 2013.

Mortgage affordability has improved significantly in recent years. The proportion of disposable earnings devoted to mortgage payments by a first time buyer stood at 32% in the third quarter of 2014, a substantial improvement compared with the summer of 2007 when this figure reached a peak of 50%. Record low mortgage rates have been a major contributing factor behind this improvement, the Halifax says.

There has been a fall in the size of the average deposit needed by first time buyers to £29,218, some 7% lower than in 2013 when it was £31,582. It says that this decline was primarily due to the greater availability of loans requiring a relatively small deposit during the past year. Nonetheless, the average deposit is still £11,718 or 67% higher than in 2007 when it was £17,499.

‘First time buyers are vital for a properly functioning housing market. Improving economic conditions and rising employment levels have boosted confidence among those thinking about getting on to the housing ladder for the first time, contributing to the significant increase in the number of first time buyers in the past two years,’ said Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at the Halifax.

‘Record low mortgage rates and Government schemes such as Help to Buy have improved affordability, enabling more first-time buyers to buy their own property,’ he added.

The research also shows that nearly six in 10 first time buyer purchases are now above the £125,000 Stamp Duty threshold. The proportion exempt from paying stamp duty fell to 41% in 2014 from 45% in 2013. Almost half, 47%, of properties bought by first time buyers were priced between £125,000 and £250,000.

Nationally, only 13% of first time purchases were above £250,000 in 2014. There were, however, considerable regional differences with more than half of first time buyers in Greater London, 56%, paying more than £250,000.

The recent changes to the stamp duty system have saved the average first time buyer £781, reducing the tax bill for the average priced property of £171,870 from £1,718 to £937.

Larne in Northern Ireland is named as the most affordable local authority district in the UK with an average property price of £80,793, some 2.8 times local average gross annual earnings. East Ayrshire and Inverclyde are the next most affordable also 2.8 and seven of the 10 most affordable authorities for first time buyers are in Scotland.

Unsurprisingly, all 10 least affordable local authority districts are in London. The least affordable is Camden where the average first time buyer’s property price of £614,315 is 11.4 times gross average annual earnings in the area.

There has been an increase in the proportion of areas that are affordable for first time buyers since 2007. In 26% all of local authority districts in the UK the average house price paid by a first time buyer in the 12 months to November 2014 was affordable for someone on average earnings. This compares to the peak of the market in 2007 when just 5% of authorities were affordable.

The average deposit, as a proportion of the purchase price, fell from 20% in 2013 to 17% in 2014. It, nonetheless, remains significantly higher than in 2007 when it was 10% while the volume of lending to first time buyers at a loan to value ratio of 90% and above increased from 26% in 2013 to an estimated 31% in 2014.

First time buyers in Greater London put down the largest average deposit, at £78,823 while those in Northern Ireland put down the smallest average deposit, at £16,763.

The average price paid by first time s increased by 9% in 2014, from £157,911 to £171,870, just 2% lower than in 2007 but the average price paid by was highest in Greater London at 323,333, more than £100,000 higher than the next most expensive region, the South East at £212,635. With an average price of £100,320, Northern Ireland is the least expensive region in the UK to get on the bottom rung of the housing ladder.

The average age of a first time buyer is 30 years old, up from 29 in 2011. Regionally, the average age of a first time buyer is highest in London, at 32 years old.

Now is a great time to sell your home. You can book a free market appraisal here.

Source: Property Wire

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