Hightest number of first-time buyer numbers since 2007

Affordability around its best level for a decade, suggests new report
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There was an estimated 12 per cent rise in the number of first-time buyers in 2012, according to Halifax, with around 216,000 first-time buyers in 2012, up from 193,000 in 2011. 

Though this is the highest annual total since 2007, it is still nearly 50 per cent lower than in 2006 (402,800).

The average house price paid by a first-time buyer in November 2012 was affordable for someone on average earnings, based on the ratio of the average house price to earnings being below the long-term average of 4 in 39 per cent of all local authority districts  in the UK. This compares with only 5 per cent at the peak of the housing market in 2007, but is marginally lower than in 2011 (40 per cent).

Nationally, the average house price paid by a first-time buyer in 2012 was £139,921, an increase of 3 per cent on2011. Around 38 per cent of properties bought by first-time buyers were priced between £125,000 and £250,000 and would have been exempt from stamp duty if the temporary increase in the starting threshold had been in place for the entire year.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "Conditions for potential first-time buyers remain very difficult with problems raising the necessary deposit and concerns over the economic climate continuing to prevent many from entering the market. Despite some positive steps with schemes such as NewBuy, the numbers of those buying their first home remain low by recent historical standards"

The figures also reveal that:

* The average first-time buyer deposit in 2012 was £27,984, slightly higher than in 2011 (£27,239) and £10,502 higher than in 2007

* The average price paid by a first-time buyer is highest in Greater London (£251,096), more than two and a half times that in the North (£99,506) where the average price paid by a first-time buyer is the lowest

* The average age of a first-time buyer is 30, up from 29 in 2011