February saw a sharp rise in the number of first-time buyers, according to figures out yesterday from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), as the stamp duty holiday’s end date in March drew closer. A total of 14,100 loans worth £1.7bn were taken out by first-time buyers in the month, up eight per cent by volume and six per cent by value on the month. On the year the rise is even more dramatic, up 18 per cent by volume and 21 per cent by value. “The rise is almost certainly due to the stamp duty holiday and will almost certainly fizzle out,” said Mark Hollands from mortgage broker London Money. “While homes are marginally more affordable for some first time buyers, for the majority of would-be homeowners property ownership remains a pipe dream – lending criteria are too tough, the deposits required too large.” Home movers took out loans worth £3.7bn, a two per cent rise in number and three per cent rise by value in the month to February, the CML data showed.