Wednesday 2 January 2019 10:08 am

First-time buyer mortgage approvals hit 10-year high despite higher UK house prices


Jess Clark is a City A.M. news reporter covering private equity and investment.

Jess Clark is a City A.M. news reporter covering private equity and investment.

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First-time buyer mortgage approvals hit their highest level in more than 10 years in 2018, the latest data shows.

An estimated 367,038 first-time buyers took out mortgages last year, up from 362,800 in 2017, according to analysis from Yorkshire Building Society using UK Finance figures.

The number exceeded 2007 levels, when 359,000 first-time buyers secured mortgages, and is almost double the 193,300 taken out following the 2008 financial crisis.

Yorkshire Building Society strategic economist Nitesh Patel said: “Property prices have grown at a faster rate than wages over the past 12 years, which has created difficulties for first-time buyers.

“Various factors have helped to alleviate this challenging environment, although the market is still pretty tough for those wanting to become homeowners.

“However, the figures indicate that government initiatives such as stamp duty relief, Help to Buy equity loans and Help to Buy ISAs may have made an impact.

“Over the past three or four years, we’ve also seen more mortgage lenders offering 96 per cent loan-to-value mortgages, as well as strong competition driving mortgage rates down.

“This combination of factors has made buying a home more accessible in recent years. But getting onto the housing ladder is still not an easy step for many young people, as demonstrated by the increasing numbers who have received help from the bank of Mum and Dad.

“Despite these challenges, the first-time buyer market has bounced back following the financial crisis to outperform other sectors, such as the home moving and buy-to-let markets.

“Buying your first home remains tough for many by it’s encouraging to see first-time buyer levels at a ten-year high and climbing.”

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