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First-time buyer numbers soared 35% in 2021

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House prices rose last year but a record number of first-time buyers were able to get onto the ladder
First-time buyer numbers soared 35% in 2021

Last year saw first-time buyer numbers rise at a record rate (up 35%) to 409,370, according to Halifax, despite challenges around affordability due to high house prices.

The lender said that first-time buyer numbers have more than doubled since 2009.

The average buyer in 2021 was 32 years old and put down a £53,935 deposit on a first property costing £264,140.

Each region of the UK saw a rise in the number of new buyers in the market last year.

The biggest increase was in London, where numbers rose 49%. The smallest, Scotland, still saw
an increase by a quarter (24%).

Affordability pressures

The price of an average first-time buyer home is more than four times the average income in all but 15 local authorities (LAs) around the UK.

The least affordable LA is the London borough of Brent, where first homes are 12.3 times average earnings, while the most affordable is Clackmannanshire in Scotland, where it is just three times.

The average price to earnings ratio for UK first-time buyers now stands at 6.9 times income.

Esther Dijkstra, mortgage director at Halifax, said: “There were a number of factors influencing home buying decisions in 2021. While working from home and the ‘race for space’ was key for many, particularly movers, it’s clear that the Stamp Duty holiday increased the availability of first-rung homes as others moved up the ladder.

“Lifestyles have changed; over time more people have chosen to go on to higher education, go travelling, or move around for work, which are all factors in the increase in first-time buyer age.

However, undoubtedly, the biggest drivers are the cost of homes and the need to save a significant deposit to get on the housing ladder.

“In 2021, the increase in average house price to £264,140, combined with difficulties in raising a deposit, meant that the gap between purchase price and deposit widened in every region in the UK.”

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