MortgagesMay 14 2013

First-time buying rises in March but falls short of 2012

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ByMichael Trudeau

A 20 per cent increase in first-time buying activity contributed to a March jump in house purchase lending, data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders revealed.

This surge accompanied small rises in remortgage lending and house moving, but did not amount to the level of first-time buyer activity in March 2012.

A total of 19,100 loans worth £2.4bn were advanced to first-time buyers in March, up from 15,900 loans in February but down on the 24,400 loans advanced in March last year. However, March 2012 marked the end of the first-time buyer stamp duty holiday and resulted in a significant jump in activity, making meaningful year-on-year comparisons difficult.

While the loan-to-value ratio for first-time buyers remained at 80 per cent, there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of first-time buyers taking out loans with a deposit of 10 per cent or less.

In the first quarter of the year, 1 in 4 first-time buyers put down a deposit at 10 per cent or less, up from one in five in the first quarter of last year.

First-time buyers also typically borrowed a slightly larger amount in March than in February, both in absolute terms and relative to their income.

Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said: “First-time buyer activity in the first quarter was nearly at the same level as last year – when figures were buoyed up by the end of the stamp duty holiday. This suggests that the market continues to be favourable for those looking to buy their first home.

“More borrowers are taking out higher loan-to-value mortgages than any other time in the last four years - a sign that lenders are open for business, and that borrowers, even those without a large deposit, are increasingly able to get a foot on the property ladder.”