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First-time buyers are driving the property market

Published: 17 September 2019 - Fiona Garcia

FTBs were the largest group of purchasers in 2018, accounting for 36% of all sales, and are expected to remain so in 2019.

The latest report from Hometrack has looked at the rising number of first-time buyers in the UK property market and how they have been the driving force for housing sales in recent years.

Growth in FTBs is expected to be driven in regional markets, where affordability remains attractive, supported by availability of higher LTV mortgages. However, they are not trying to purchase lower value homes and appear to be taking a longer-term view. founder and CEO Colby Short, commented: “We have and always will be a nation of aspirational homeowners and so it should come as no shock that those that are yet to reach that life mile marker are the ones pushing the hardest to do so and driving the market forward when they get there.

“Although the barrier in achieving this goal remains large with house prices far from affordable, we are currently seeing what could be described as perfect conditions to help boost the number of first-time buyers.

“We’ve seen a prolonged period of affordability where mortgages are concerned, static house price growth in many areas and a healthy uplift in wage growth as well as financial incentives. All of which have helped to narrow the gap and make it easier to take that first step onto the ladder.”

The findings follow news that house prices remain steady, despite Brexit turmoil and homeowners putting their moves on hold. Earlier this month, Halifax reported that the average UK house price in August rose by 0.3% on a monthly basis but was up 1.8% in the year to August to reach £233,541.

The lender said that a shortage of properties coming to the market - as homeowners decide to stay put rather than move - was supporting house prices in the face of political uncertainty.

HMRC Monthly data revealed that there were 86,630 home sales during July, down approximately 12% year on year. However, mortgage approvals have risen slightly, with Bank of England figures showing that the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchases were 67,306 in July – this represents a 1.2% rise from June and at its highest level since July 2017.

Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: “There was no real shift in house prices in August as the average property value grew by just 0.3% month on month. This further extends the predominantly flat trend we’ve seen over the last six months, with the average house price having barely changed since March.

“While ongoing economic uncertainty continues to weigh on consumer sentiment – with evidence of both buyers and sellers exercising some caution – a number of important underlying factors, such as affordability and employment remain strong.

“Although the housing market will undoubtedly be influenced by events in the wider economy, it continues to show a degree of resilience for the time being.”

Discussing the rising number of first-time buyers in the market, Springbok Properties founder and CEO Shepherd Ncube added: “There’s no doubting that Help to Buy has had an impact in terms of fuelling huge additional demand on the side of first-time buyers and while it has its critics, the scheme has helped a vast number of people to purchase their first home who would otherwise have failed to do so.

“Another driving factor behind this rise of first-time buyers is their attitude towards a purchase. We’ve seen Brexit uncertainty cause many areas of the market to grind to a halt as both buyer and seller contemplate the ‘what ifs’ of transacting in the current landscape.

“However, this hasn’t deterred first-time buyers who remain grateful to be on the ladder at all, let alone making a profit from their bricks and mortar investment. At the same time, those who simply have to sell have had to do so at a reduced price and all of these factors combine to provide a favourable environment for those looking to buy for the first time.”


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