Scots first time buyer numbers reach 5 year high

THE number of Scottish first-time homebuyers taking out a new mortgage has risen to its highest level in five years, figures have revealed.

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

A total of 6,500 new homeowners took out loans between April and June – up by a third over the same period last year and the largest total in a single quarter since mid-2008, figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show.

Mortgages worth £630 million were advanced to first-time buyers in Scotland in the second quarter of 2013, up 54 per cent compared to the first quarter and up 40 per cent on the second quarter last year.

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The figures are a further sign that buoyancy is returning to the housing market, with some particularly strong evidence seen in recent weeks.

Iain Malloch, chair of CML Scotland, said: “The positive growth in lending to both first-time buyers and home movers has led to a welcome increase in lending for house purchases in Scotland.

“With comparatively lower prices in Scotland than in the UK as a whole, first-time buyers are able to borrow less relative to income.

“There is clearly value in the Scottish market which provides a great opportunity to get on the housing ladder.”

First-time buyers in Scotland typically borrowed 2.91 times their income, up from 2.81 in the first quarter of the year but considerably lower than the 3.3 times borrowed by first-time buyers on average in the UK.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of online estate agency Your Move, said political measures to improve the availability of loans had begun to pay off.

“The catalyst behind all this has been a swift upturn in the availability of mortgages,” he said. “Government schemes have emboldened lenders and given their balance sheets plenty of extra muscle.

“They are much more willing to extend an olive branch to high loan-to-value buyers, which has opened the door to scores of first-time buyers who previously had it slammed in their faces by the force of weak wage growth, high inflation and high deposit requirements.”

Alongside first-time buyers, overall lending to home movers increased in the second quarter of this year, according to CML, whose members, which comprise banks, building societies and other lenders, account for around 95 per cent of all residential mortgage lending in the UK.

There were 8,100 loans advanced to home movers this quarter – an increase of 47 per cent compared to the first quarter and up by 5 per cent on the second quarter of last year.

The total value of loans offered to Scottish home buyers also increased to £1.1 billion from £1bn last year.