Friday, 11 February 2011

First Time Buyer numbers plummet in December

Anyone looking at the latest mortgage lending figures from the big banks and building societies will be shocked to see a 42% drop to 14,500, year-on-year, in the number of first time buyers being granted a mortgage in December.

First time buyers are seen as crucial to any housing revival.

There is an easy explanation for this sharp fall. December 2009 saw the end of a stamp duty holiday designed to rescue the housing market. So there was a rush of buyers trying to take advantage.

The stamp duty concession meant no stamp duty had to be paid on properties under £175,000. The threshold went back to £125,000 at the end of 2009.

However, first time buyer numbers are still on a downward trend. The total fell by 3% between November and December 2010, according to the Council for Mortgage Lenders. And it was lower for the year as a whole.

The trend will focus attention on next week's First Time Buyer Summit called by the housing minister, Grant Shapps. He has summoned housing and lending bodies to suggest better ways of bringing young buyers into the market.

Another factor which they are bound to look at is the rise in deposits which first time buyers are having to to pay.

The typical deposit has risen again, to 23% from 21%. Of course, this is for buyers who succeed in getting mortgage. Many others don't succeed or don't try because of the high level of deposits required by lenders.

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