First-time buyer numbers up nearly a quarter

Latest figures suggest the largest annual increase since 2001

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The Independent Online

The number of first-time buyers rose by 22 per cent in 2013, according to a new report from Halifax, following a 13 per cent rise in 2012.

It represents the largest annual rise since 2001, with an estimated 265,000 first time buyers in the last 12 months, though nearly 30 per cent lower than the annual average between 2003 and 2007 

Around 45 per cent of all first time buyer purchases in 2013 were under the £125,000 Stamp Duty threshold.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "Low interest rates, improvements in consumer confidence and Government schemes, such as Help to Buy, all appear to have contributed to the rise in the number of first time buyers.

"However, many potential first-time buyers continue to find raising the necessary deposit a problem. The Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme should enable more buyers to get on to the property ladder with smaller deposits. Continuing pressure on household finances during the next 12 months will no doubt remain a constraint."

The Halifax report also showed that:

* the average first time buyer deposit in 2013 was £30,943, 11 per cent higher than in 2012

* first time buyers in Greater London put down the largest average deposit, at £56,183, while those in the North East put down the smallest, at £15,862.

* the average price paid by a first time buyer is highest in Greater London (£280,915), almost two and a half times that in the North East where the average price paid is the lowest 

* the average age of a first time buyer is 30

The figures follow research from LSL Property Services last month reporting that the number of UK first-time buyers rose 28 per cent year-on-year in November.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, said: "There has been a revival in the first-time buyer market over the past 12 months. However there is a flipside to the coin. Prices are rising and there is simply not enough housing stock to match continued demand, meaning this will continue well into 2014. If demand is not satisfied by supply, then sustainable growth will be hampered and future first-time buyers will once again be left out in the cold. We need far more homes, particularly at the lower end of the spectrum if we are to sustain a healthy property market."