Peter Bolton-King, CEO of the NAEA, said: "This figure is highly significant in terms of demonstrating an increase in consumer confidence. The NAEA views FTBs as the bedrock of a healthy housing market.
"During the boom years we saw the number of FTBs as a proportion of buyers rise as high as 37%, and I believe that an average of 25% is indicative of a healthy and confident market.
"While the figure of 22.5% is definitely not a sign that the housing sector is out of the woods yet, it does suggest that those infamous green shoots of recovery may not be as far off as first thought."
Figures from a national survey of the NAEA’s 14,000 members also demonstrate that second-time buyers are determined to try to bag a bargain.
Agents reported a flurry of activity in the first two weeks in January, with an average of ten new sellers per agent.
Agents made an average of four sales in the first two weeks of January – compared to a monthly average of six in November and December 2008.
Around 55% of those looking to buy in the first two weeks of January came from this market segment.
Buy-to-let investors made up 22% of the market – indicating bricks and mortar remains a sound investment, particularly with interest rates falling.
Peter Bolton-King said: “These statistics are evidence that consumer confidence is slowly being restored but I must counter this by saying that unless lenders respond to consumer demand, then any green shoots will wither and die on the branch.”
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