It seems that the number of people jumping on the property ladder is continuing to rise, according to Halifax. The annual first-time buyer review of the mortgage lender showed a rise in the number of people making their first entry into the property market for a second year in a row, chiefly as a result of the launch of several government schemes, but also thanks to the notable improvement in mortgage affordability in recent years.

The report revealed a 22% increase in the number of first-time buyers in 2013, which was the strongest annual improvement since 2001. In 2012, the number of first-time buyers advanced 13%.

Using figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders and its own data, Halifax estimated that there were some 265,000 first-home buyers last year, up from 218,000 in 2012. Some 45% of all first-time home purchases in 2013 were valued below the £125,000 stamp duty threshold, Halifax added.

Halifax also recorded an increase in the share of home purchases made with a mortgage, which expanded to 44% in 2013 from 40% the previous year.

The ultra-low mortgage rates acted as a major driver of mortgage availability, which resulted in a strong improvement in the proportion of disposable earnings dedicated to mortgage payments. Their share stood at 30% in the last quarter of 2013, compared with a peak of 50% in the summer of 2007.

The report also found that house prices in around a third of local authority districts in the UK were affordable to a first-time buyer on average earnings, against just 5% in 2007.

If it continues this way, it will be a very Happy New Year for many first-time buyers out there.

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