There were an estimated 139,500 first-time buyers in the first six months of 2015, according to the latest Halifax First-Time Buyer Review.
Compared with the same period in 2014, this represents an estimated 7% reduction in purchases (from 149,500) – the first annual decrease on this basis since the first half of 2011. However, with the exception of 2014, it was still the highest total for the first six months of the year since 2007, and was 92% higher than the market low recorded in the first half of 2009 (72,700).
Despite the decline in purchases by first-time buyers this year, as a proportion of all mortgage financed house purchasers the proportion remains steady (also down 7%). In fact, the number of first-time buyers has increased more rapidly than the number of subsequent buyers over the past few years, from 38% in 2011 to 47% in 2015.
Halifax mortgages director Craig McKinlay said there had been a modest decline in the number of first-time buyers in the first half of the year following the substantial increases recorded in 2013 and 2014:
“This fall has been in line with the general softening in market activity. However, there are now signs of a pick-up in mortgage activity as the economy continues to recover and mortgage interest rates remain at very low levels,” he said. “These factors could boost the number of first-time buyers during the second half of the year.”
The recent changes to the stamp duty system have saved the average new buyer £716, reducing the tax bill for someone buying the average priced first-time buyer property of £178,370 from £1,783 to £1,067. Savings for the average first-time homebuyer in London are much bigger than this, with a reduction in the stamp duty bill for the average first-time buyer property in the capital (of £342,313) of £3,154, from £10,269 to £7,115.