Number of first-time home buyers hits highest level since 2007

2 January 2020, 09:26

File photo: Across the country, there were 353,436 first-time buyers in 2019
File photo: Across the country, there were 353,436 first-time buyers in 2019. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The number of first-time home buyers reached its highest level since 2007 last year, with over 353,000 people taking their first step on the property ladder.

Across the country, there were 353,436 first-time buyers in 2019, slightly up from the 353,130 recorded in 2018 and the highest annual total since 357,590 in 2007.

But there is still some way to go before first-time buyer numbers reach 2006 levels, when the annual total stood at 400,870, according to calculations from Yorkshire Building Society.

Nearly twice as many first-time buyers secured a mortgage in 2019 as at the start of the financial crisis in 2008, with those entering the property market now accounting for more than half of homes purchased with a mortgage. In 2008 this share was just 38 per cent.

Yorkshire Building Society strategic economist Nitesh Patel said: "Even though the number of first-time buyers has stayed pretty much the same as last year, it is still encouraging to see first-time buyers top 350,000 for the second year in a row.

"They also represent over half of all homes bought with a mortgage, meaning the first-time buyer mortgage market share is at its highest since 1995, when they bought 53% of all mortgage-financed homes.

"In recent years first-time buyers have been helped by strong competition driving mortgage rates down to near-record lows, making borrowing more accessible...

"Also government schemes such as stamp duty relief, Help to Buy equity loans and Help to Buy Isas will have made an impact.

"This combination of factors has made buying a home more accessible in recent years.

"This has seen the first-time buyer market bounce back from the financial crisis and perform better than other sectors, such as the home-moving and buy-to-let markets.

"However, as these figures show, the market may have now reached its peak and buying your first home still remains tough for many."

Here are Yorkshire Building Society's tips for first-time buyers:

1. Before you start looking at properties, review your personal finances.

2. Once you are happy with your finances, try out a mortgage cost calculator, available on mortgage lender or independent money advice websites.

3. Consider speaking to a mortgage adviser or broker.

4. When choosing where to live, make a list of what is important to you.

5. Remember that house purchases rarely stick to the expected timeframes.