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Lower house prices tempting back more buyers

The recent decline in the proportion of first-time buyers comes against a backdrop of an overall increase in the number of house purchases. Home movers have increased their share from just 35% of mortgage valuations to 44% by July. There is heightened activity on the buy-to-let front too, where investors have increased from just one in 14 buyers earlier this year to one in ten in July.

The strength of first-time buyer activity comes against a strong headwind of tough lending criteria which have made it difficult for first timers to access credit. Significant deposit requirements remain and higher affordability and credit scoring thresholds are undoubtedly preventing many from obtaining mortgage finance.

Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government shows house prices are more affordable now than at any time since 2003. This has proved irresistible to some first timers.

The trends in Connells data suggest that housing transactions should have increased to almost 40,000 by June, with a similar number in July, up 53% from the record low in January.

Ross Bowen, Group Mortgage Director for Connells said: "First-time buyers are having a hard time when it comes to obtaining finance but this hasn’t stopped them hunting for bargains. For first-timers house prices are cheaper than they have been for years, and there is pent up demand.

"The overall numbers of houses changing hands are recovering, which combined with rising house prices over the last five consecutive months is encouraging. However, funding constraints remain a significant barrier to any step change in housing transaction levels.

"First-time buyers are crucial to the long-term health of the market and continuing to support their entry to home ownership must remain a top priority for us all."

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