First-time Buyer  

First-time buyers struggle in London

First-time buyers struggle in London

First-time buyers are shunning London as affordability prices many out, according to figures from UK Finance.

Some 14,500 Londoners remortgaged in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 9.8 per cent on the same period the year before.

Remortgages in the final three months of the year total £4.41bn, according to figures from UK Finance.

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The figures are evidence of a growing trend of homeowners choosing to stay put as they wait to see if interest rates will rise and how house prices will be affected.

Towards the end of last year remortgaging surged to a nine-year high ahead of the Bank of England’s decision to raise interest rates.

But the number of first-time buyers in London stalled. Some 10,700 first-timer mortgages, worth a total of £3bn, were completed in the final quarter of the year – the same number as the year before.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: "Subdued growth in the number of first-time buyers shows that affordability remains a challenge in the capital."

The typical first-time buyer in London has a mortgage which is 4.09 times their salary with repayments accounting for 17.7 per cent of their income. Their typical mortgage is for £267,999.

Experts have pointed out that while the decision to scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers was expected to fuel demand, the reality is most buyers in the capital will still have to pay the levy.

The stamp duty exemption applies on homes worth up to £500,000 in London but, with the average home in the capital now costing £484,000, many first-timers won’t benefit from the move.

Sam Mitchell, chief executive at HouseSimple.com, said: "London is seeing an exodus of young professionals who would prefer to move to more affordable areas of the country.

"With the growth of business hubs in many other major cities and the cost of housing considerably lower in the capital, London is no longer the draw it used to be."

Some 7,700 moved home in quarter, up 8.5 per cent on the same period in 2016, with the average home mover aged 37 with an income of £89,000.

Figures released today by HM Revenue & Customs also showed there were 102,610 residential property transactions in the UK in the first month of the year, just slightly below the number recorded in January 2017.

Brian Murphy, head of lending at the Mortgage Advice Bureau, said market expectations are for a "relatively flat" number of transactions this year although first-time buyer activity could increase.  

He added: "The property market has started 2018 from a sold footing, and this is likely to be assisted by the fact mortgage rates remain at exceptionally low levels, with competition between lenders ensuring product rates are still very appealing for would-be buyers."