First-time buyers at highest level since 2007

House buying

The number of first-time buyers rose to its highest level in seven years in 2014, research from the Halifax has found.

Its First-Time Buyer Review estimated that 326,500 people bought their first property last year - the highest annual total since 2007 and a jump of 22% compared to 2013 when just 268,500 homes were purchased.

The average deposit for first-time buyers fell in 2014, with people putting down an average of £29,218, a drop of 7% compared to 2013 (£31,582); while the proportion of earnings buyers put towards their mortgage repayments stood at an average of 32% in the third quarter of 2014 - a substantial drop compared to summer 2007 when the figure was 50%.

Halifax said the combination of record low mortgage rates and government schemes like Help to Buy had helped first-time buyers get on the property ladder. It is the third annual increase in first-time buyers recorded by the building society.

However, the average price first-time buyers are paying is up 9% on 2013, with the average first-time buyer property now costing £171,870.

The average age of those buying for the first time has also risen, from 29 in 2011 to 30 in 2014; though the average age of those buying in London is highest at 32.

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Boost in confidence

Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at Halifax, said: "First-time buyers are vital for a properly functioning housing market. Improving economic conditions and rising employment levels have boosted confidence among those thinking about getting on to the housing ladder for the first-time, contributing to the significant increase in the number of first-time buyers in the past two years.

"Record low mortgage rates and Government schemes such as Help to Buy have improved affordability, enabling more first-time buyers to buy their own property."