First time buyers dominate housing market

Rise in property sales is leading to a drop in potential rentals

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The Independent Online

Nearly a third of all homes sold in February by members of the National Association of Estate Agents were to first time buyers.

Jan Hÿtch, President of National Association of Estate Agents, said: "Confidence may be increasing, but the lack of properties entering the market has slowed considerably and is a real concern that needs to be addressed now, particularly for those already on the housing ladder who want to move onwards. With Help-to-Buy making it easier for new purchasers with low deposits to buy a home, the appetite for buying in this price range, combined with the diminishing supply of first time buyer properties, could drive property prices up further in this sector."

The largest age group buying property was the 31-to-40 year olds, making up half of the buyers in February. NAEA agents also said one in five movers were looking to re-locate. It now takes 11 weeks on average to buy a property in the UK, from sale agreed through to completion.

The report also shows a fall in the average number of properties available per member branch in February, from 45 in January to 43 in February, the fifth consecutive monthly drop.

According to haart, which has a network of more than 2,000 branches, first time buyers make up just over 46 per cent of all mortgages, while the average first time buyer property price in the UK has risen 13.3 per cent year-on-year.

Paul Smith, CEO of haart, said: "Home owners across the UK, who have on average accumulated equity of over £14,000 in their property over the past year, are expected to take advantage of their growing assets by remortgaging or downsizing this spring. The downsizers will ease the current shortage of supply which will help to quell rising house prices."

Figures from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) suggests that the number of people letting out properties because they have been unable to sell has dropped to a record low.

The percentage of letting agents seeing an increase in rental property becoming available because it cannot be sold has fallen to 13 per cent. At the start of 2009, the figure was 94 per cent.

Ian Potter, Managing Director of ARLA, said: "The resurgence of property prices and buyer demand in many areas is reducing the number of so-called 'accidental landlords'. Despite the reduction of landlords in this situation, wider investment in rental properties remains strong across the market. The shape of the private rented sector is changing once again, with long-term landlords returning to the fore."