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Peak in the number of first-time homebuyers

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A surge in the number of first-time buyers put more people on the housing ladder in 2019 than at any time since 2007, reveals a report by the Independent newspaper on the 2nd of January.

Last year saw 353,436 first-time buyers step onto the housing ladder – only a few thousand less than the 357,590 in 2007, but some way short of the highs reached in 2006, when there were 400,870 first-time buyers.

The recent growth in numbers of successful buyers is at least partly thanks to a competitive mortgage industry in which borrowing rates have fallen to a near-record low, commented the Yorkshire Building Society.

That may explain why the number of first-time buyers who secured a mortgage in 2019 is practically double those who managed to do so in 2008 in the aftermath of the financial crisis. First-time buyers now represent more than half of all new mortgages granted – in contrast to the 38% in 2008.

They have also been helped by various government interventions and schemes, such as help to buy ISAs, help to buy equity loans, and relief from Stamp Duty.

Among all those buying their home with a mortgage, the highest proportion – more than half – are first-time buyers, who have taken the largest share of this mortgage market since 1995, according to the Yorkshire Building Society.

Mortgages for first-time buyers are now more numerous than those granted to existing homeowners moving house or buy to let landlords. The last time they represented such a major share of the market was in 1995, when the proportion was 53%.