Number of first-time buyers 'at highest level for a decade'

The number of people buying their first home hit the highest level in a decade despite deposit sizes having doubled over that time, according to a new report.

An estimated 359,000 homes were bought in 2017 by people taking their first step on the property ladder, according to figures from Halifax.

It's the highest level in ten year - though the figures are still below the estimated 359,900 people making their first home purchase a decade earlier in 2007.

Halifax said that low interest rates and schemes aimed at helping people to get a first foothold on the property ladder helped drive the rise.

But many are struggling to meet upfront costs after average deposit sizes nearly doubled over the last ten years.

First-time buyers need to find almost double the average deposit compared to a decade ago. Credit: PA

First-time buyers now put down an average deposit of £33,339 - a 91% increase compared with £17,740 a decade ago, the research found. In London, first-time buyers face needing an average deposit of £112,604.

The figures reflect both an increase in housing prices and a trend to put down a larger chunk of a property's value in the deposit.

The average age of a first-time buyer across the UK in 2017 is now 31, two years older than a decade ago.

Copeland in Cumbria was identified by Halifax as the most affordable district in the UK, with an average property price equating to 2.9 times the local average gross annual earnings.

The most affordable areas (property price: average UK earnings)

  • Copeland, North West, 2.9

  • Stirling,Scotland, 3

  • North Ayrshire, Scotland, 3.1

  • Pendle,North West, 3.1

  • Inverclyde, Scotland, 3.2

  • West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, 3.2

  • Renfrewshire, Scotland, 3.2

  • EastAyrshire, Scotland, 3.4

  • SouthAyrshire, Scotland, 3.4

  • North Lanarkshire, Scotland,3.4

Philip Hammond cut stamp duty for first-time buyers. Credit: PA

London made up the entirety of the least affordable list of locations.

Brent was named as the least affordable area in the country, where the average first-time buyer property price is 12.9 times gross average annual earnings.

The least affordable areas (property price: average UK earnings)

  • Brent, London, 12.9

  • Newham, London, 12

  • Haringey, London, 11.5

  • Hackney, London, 11.3

  • Harrow, London, 11.2

  • Hillingdon, London, 10.9

  • Waltham Forest, London, 10.8

  • Lambeth, London, 10.7

  • Southwark, London, 10.7

  • Ealing, London, 10.5

House prices have been steadily rising for years. Credit: PA

First-time buyers now account for nearly half (49%) of all house purchases with a mortgage, compared with just over a third (36%) a decade ago.

First-time buyer numbers have bounced back compared with a low point of 192,3002 in 2008 and are now just 11% below a recent peak of 402,800 in 2006.

The latest figures come after Theresa May pledged to take charge of the "broken" housing market by building more properties.

Her chancellor Philip Hammond also unveiled a stamp duty cut for first-time buyers for properties valued up to £300,000.