First-time buyer numbers rising

The number of first-time buyers increased by 20% in March according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Just over 19,000 loans - worth £2.4 billion - were advanced to first-time buyers in March, say the CML, up from just under 16,000 in February but down on the 24,400 in March 2012.

In the first three months of the year 1 in 4 first-time buyers put down a deposit of 10 per cent or less, up from 1 in 5 in the same period last year. First-time buyers also borrowed a slightly larger amount in March than in February and
continued to account for an increasing proportion of all house purchase loans, increasing to 45 per cent in March from 43 per cent in February.

CML director general Paul Smee said: "First-time buyer activity in the first three months of the year was nearly at the same level as last year when figures were buoyed up by the end of the stamp duty holiday. This suggests that the market continues to be favourable for those looking to buy their first home.

"More borrowers are taking out higher loan-to-value mortgages than any other time in the last four years, a sign that lenders are open for business, and that borrowers, even those without a large deposit, are increasingly able to get a foot on the property ladder."

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: "Those all-important first-time buyers are returning to the market. However, the number of first-time buyers is down on March last year. What it does show is that the market is still subdued and has a long way to go to satisfy the definition of a sustained recovery."

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, said: "The first-time buyer market is starting to froth again after falling flat since the financial crisis. Lenders are in a much better position to support high LTV borrowers, and that is beginning to translate into a wave of activity at the bottom of the market. These are the most encouraging signs yet of a genuine recovery in the housing market. Last year banks were hesitant to lend to first-time buyers with a deposit of less than 20%, but now they’re now in a much better position to consider mortgage applications from high LTV borrowers, thanks largely to the Funding for Lending Scheme. First-time buyers are the beating heart of the housing market. Now that heart is beginning to pump again, it will help to rehabilitate the rest of the market."

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