First-time buyer numbers have soared to their highest levels in six years, with low interest rates and government support for funding schemes making it easier for people to get on to the property ladder, according to one major lender.
Halifax estimates that there were 120,000 first-time buyers in the first six months of 2013 – the equivalent of nearly 660 a day and an increase of almost one-fifth year-on-year.
New figures showed this was the highest number since there were 181,500 buyers in the first half of 2007, and marked a substantial recovery after first-time buyers slumped to just 72,700 in 2009.
However, a growing proportion of new buyers are having to pay stamp duty on top of raising funds for a deposit, as the property market revival has pushed house prices in many parts over the £125,000 threshold.
More than half (51 per cent) of this year’s first-time buyers – up from 44 per cent a year ago – purchased homes which were more than £125,000, at which a rate of 1 per cent stamp duty kicks in.
In Scotland, the figure was lower with 30 per cent facing stamp duty, while in Northern Ireland the figure was just 13 per cent. In London, 97 per cent of those taking their first step on the housing ladder paid stamp duty. The south-east had the second biggest proportion at 85 per cent.
Londoners also need to find the biggest deposit typically – £60,747 – while average deposits in the north are smallest at £13,526. First-time buyer deposits across the country stand at around £26,859 on average and are £20,209 in Scotland.
Halifax said the average house price paid by a first-time buyer was 4.26 times their annual earnings, well above an average of 3.23 over the last 30 years.
Seven of the ten most affordable local authority districts are in Scotland, with Stirling top, followed by Inverclyde.
Once first-time buyers have managed to make the jump on to the property ladder, mortgage repayments have become more affordable as a proportion of income, Halifax said.