First-time buyer numbers jump 35% in 2021

First-time buyer numbers increased at a record rate of 35% last year, according to new analysis from Halifax.

The total number of first-time buyers hit 409,370 in 2021, despite low affordability across many parts of the UK.

According to the findings, published in Halifax’s First-Time Buyer Review 2021, the average buyer in 2021 was 32 years old and put down a £53,935 deposit on a first property costing £264,140.

The research also highlighted that first-time buyer numbers have more than doubled since 2009, with an increase of over 100,000 in the last 12 months taking the total to 409,370 new buyers who entered the housing market in 2021. Despite this surge in numbers, however, first-time home purchasers remained at around half of all home loans.

Halifax mortgage director, Esther Dijkstra, suggested there were a “number of factors” influencing home buying decisions in 2021.

“While working from home and the ‘race for space’ was key for many, particularly movers, it’s clear that the stamp duty holiday increased the availability of first-rung homes as others moved up the ladder,” commented Dijkstra.

“Lifestyles have changed; over time more people have chosen to go on to higher education, go travelling, or move around for work, which are all factors in the increase in first-time buyer age.”

Each region across the UK saw a marked rise in the number of new buyers in the market last year, with the biggest increase in London, where numbers climbed by 49%. The smallest, Scotland, still saw an increase by a quarter (24%). The number of first-time buyers has now more than doubled over the last 10 years in every region except London, where the increase currently sits at a rise of 82%.

Halifax also reported that the growth of house prices has outstripped that of incomes, with the average price to earnings ratio for UK first-time buyers now standing at 6.9x.

Furthermore, the price of an average first-time buyer home is now less than four times the average income, considered the limit for affordability, in just 15 local authorities around the UK. The least affordable is the London borough of Brent, where homes are 12.3x average earnings, while the most affordable is Clackmannanshire in Scotland, where it is just three times.

“Undoubtedly, the biggest drivers are the cost of homes and the need to save a significant deposit to get on the housing ladder,” Dijkstra continued.

“In 2021, the increase in average house price to £264,140, combined with difficulties in raising a deposit, meant that the gap between purchase price and deposit widened in every region in the UK.”

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