After years of frustrated efforts to get one foot on the housing ladder, first-time buyers (FTBs) are finally starting to find their place in the housing market. Indeed, according to the latest First-Time Buyer Review from Halifax, FTBs now account for nearly half (47%) of all mortgage financed house purchases.
The report revealed that there were an estimated 139,500 FTBs in the first half of 2015. This is a slight reduction on the 149,500 buyers in 2014 (-7%), but it still represents the second highest total for the first six months of the year since 2007. It also sits a staggering 92% up on the figures recorded in the market low of the first half of 2009 (72,700).
This clearly reflects the continuing desire of UK residents to buy a home, a fact that is also evidenced by the results of a survey carried out by Progressive Property, which revealed that owning a home is the biggest life goal for 51% of respondents, trumping settling down and having a family (21%) and having a fulfilling career (9%).
The Halifax report also gave FTBs other reasons to celebrate: the Stamp Duty reforms mean that the average FTB is now pocketing £716, reducing the tax bill of the average FTB home from £1,783 to £1,067.
However, although FTBs may be saving some money on their tax bill, the report also found that the average price of a first home has increased, rising by 8% over the past year from £165,829 to £178,370. This potentially explains why the average deposit put down by FTBs has also risen to £29,894, up 6% year-on-year.
Nevertheless, affordability remains strong, with there being an increase in the proportion of areas that are affordable for someone on average earnings (22% local authority districts are classed as affordable, up from 8% during the peak of the market in 2007). Furthermore, FTB numbers are expected to rise in line with market conditions, said Craig McKinlay of Halifax: "There was a modest decline in the number of first-time buyers in the first half of the year… this fall has been in line with the general softening in market activity. However, there are now signs of a pick-up in mortgage activity as the economy continues to recover and mortgage interest rates remain at very low levels. These factors could boost the number of first-time buyers during the second half of the year."
If you're a hopeful FTB, it may be time to take advantage of the low mortgage rates currently on offer and get your foot firmly on the housing ladder!
Amassing a decent deposit is a crucial first step, so why not find a good home for your savings? A regular savings account can be an ideal vehicle to build up a deposit as it will encourage you to pay in regular sums of money – check out our best buys for some inspiration.
Once your deposit is ready, it's time to turn your attention to mortgages. We've gathered together the best deals for first-time buyers, so why not check them out? Who knows, you could soon join the ranks of 139,500 others to become a proud homeowner!
Find the perfect first-time buyer mortgage
Check out the best regular savings accounts
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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