More than half of all homes bought with a mortgage in 2019 were bought by first-time buyers, a 12 year high, according to encouraging figures that suggest that getting onto the property ladder is becoming more accessible. The figures published by Yorkshire Building Society record an estimated 353, 436 people bought their first homes in the UK in 2019, the highest figure since the financial crash in 2007. Pre-financial crash figures for first time buyers in 2006 sat at just over 400,000 compared to just 191, 040 in the immediate aftermath in 2008.
Accessible mortgages and lower deposits
A combination of factors is thought to have helped the recovery of the first-time buyer market in more recent years. Firstly, banks have been able to slowly offer more accessible mortgage deals, with many now promoting 95% mortgages which ask for much lower deposits. There has also been an increase in the availability of longer term mortgages, of up to 40 years, which reduces the monthly repayment cost and again boosts affordability for those looking to get on the ladder. Government backed schemes have also been taken up by many looking to buy, such as Help to Buy schemes and Help to Buy ISAs, as well as new measures such as stamp duty relief on properties under £300,000.
The areas with the most first time buyer purchases were London and the South East, despite remaining some of the most expensive areas in the country to buy. For example, first time buyers accounted for 60% of all house purchases with a mortgage in London in 2019, despite buyers having to find an average deposit of £131,000.
First time buyer numbers are stable
However, it is worth noting that first time buyer figures have remained relatively stable over the past few years, showing only a small increase in a few hundred (from 353,130 in 2018), with some experts suggesting that these figures may be flattening out due to general affordability constraints as well as lack of housing stock across the country. In addition, property prices have risen faster than wages in recent years, meaning people on the whole will still find it tough to put enough aside for a deposit, earn enough to satisfy mortgage criteria or find affordable housing options local to them.
It’s good to acknowledge the balanced picture – though it still remains a challenge to buy, aspiring first time buyers should be bolstered by these figures that show recovery close to pre-crash levels, take confidence from the fact that banks are trusting in the market again and, as a result, are offering more affordable mortgage deals for those just starting out.
If you are a first time buyer and looking to get onto the property ladder talk to us at Urban Union – the Help to Buy and First Home Fund schemes are available.