January saw a jump in the number of first-time buyers making it onto the housing ladder, so it looks as though the lull in landlord activity – brought about by various tax changes in recent years – is paying off for those hoping to take their first step.
That's according to figures from Connells Survey & Valuation, which show that first-time buyer valuations rose by 21% year-on-year in January, thought to be "driven by high employment and an uplift in weekly earnings", which are helping more find the funds they need to buy that all-important first home.
A greater supply of suitable property could also be a contributing factor, with landlord investment declining by a significant 63% year-on-year. While some of this could be due to the fact that January 2016 saw a huge rise in landlord purchases as they sought to avoid the stamp duty surcharge, this year's figures are well below those seen in January 2015, which suggests that the surcharge – together with several other tax changes – has taken its toll.
However, this is great news for wannabe buyers, as with fewer properties going to landlords, there's far more for them to choose from – which means greater numbers have been able to take that first step. This has increased the prominence of first-time buyers in the housing market as a whole, with this sector now responsible for 34% of valuations activity, up from 25% this time last year.
John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation, commented: "With UK employment close to its 11-year high and weekly earnings rising by 3%, many first-time buyers are fitter financially than they were a year ago. Aided by cheap mortgage rates, aspiring home owners have seized the opportunity to get their first foot on the ladder."
It seems that demand for homes from first-time buyers has been particularly high, highlighting how many have been able to benefit from improved finances. Indeed, Connells notes that its estate agency network has seen almost 12 applicants for every new home that hits the market, so the desire to buy is clearly strong.
"However, more work is still required to ensure the supply side of the housing market is fit for purpose," added John. "First-time buyers tend to be younger couples, keen to start families, so need to be able to move up the rungs on the property ladder easily … the Government must deliver on their pledges to build homes faster to ensure a healthy housing sector over the next few years."
Hopefully that wish will come to fruition, but it can't be denied that first-time buyers already appear to be making the most of things. Is it time you did the same? If you've been able to save enough for a deposit, now could be the time to take the plunge, particularly with mortgage rates so low. There's a chance they may not stay that way forever, so take advantage while you still can! Check out the top mortgage deals for first-time buyers, and bring your dream one step closer to reality.
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