Stamp duty cuts are working as first-time buyers snap up properties
The number of mortgaged first-time buyers in the UK rose to 365,000 last year, the highest levels seen in more than a decade, with one agent registering a 16% surge in January.
According to the latest figures from UK Finance, 2017 saw a 7.4% increase in the number of first-timers getting onto the property ladder compared to the year before, with the government’s Help To Buy scheme, competitive mortgage deals and the stamp duty cut implemented in November last year all contributing to the rise.
The average first-time buyer was aged 30 and had an annual salary of £41,000, according to the statistics. Although the figure was a slowdown on the level seen in the same month the previous year, the results indicate a promising outlook for the sector in the face of challenges such as Brexit uncertainty and the UK’s housing shortage.
Paul Smee of UK Finance said: “2017 saw the number of first-time buyers reach its highest level in a decade, which is welcome news for those getting started on the housing ladder.
“But although the market remains competitive there is no room for complacency, with weaker December figures consistent with our market forecast of subdued growth this year.”
Business is booming in the north
One estate agent that has recognised the rising levels of first-time buyers is Haart, which saw a 10% year-on-year rise in the number of new buyers in January, a 16% increase on the previous month. It also found that the increase in this demographic, coupled with the £300,000 limit on property prices to qualify for the stamp duty cut, has pushed average prices up in this category by 2.8%, to £183,506.
Paul Smith, CEO of Haart, said: “Although the London market is still moving at a slower than normal pace, other parts of the UK are booming.
“House prices in the Northern Powerhouse city of Manchester jumped 10% over the past year, and in Warwickshire, where we have just acquired a new agency, house price growth is sitting at around 7%.
“We need to get used to this re-calibrated picture of price growth across the UK, focus on the positives, and not get bogged down with how the market is performing on Westminster’s doorstep.”
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