More first-timers enter homes market

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The number of first-time buyers grew by about one fifth in 2013, marking the strongest annual increase in more than a decade.

About 265,000 people bought for the first time in the UK last year, showing the highest annual total since 2007 and lifting by 22 per cent from an estimated 218,000 in 2012, according to Halifax, which used a combination of Council of Mortgage Lenders’ figures and its own to make its findings.

Halifax said the 22 per cent increase is the strongest annual rise seen since 2001, so first-time buyers increased their share of all house purchases made with mortgages.

Its figures also showed how ultra-low interest rates have helped to improve mortgage affordability in recent years. The proportion of disposable earnings devoted to mortgage payments by a first-time buyer stood at 30 per cent in the last three months of 2013, compared with a peak of 50 per cent in the summer of 2007.

Halifax also found that fewer than a third (32 per cent) of UK local authority districts had homes that first-time buyers on average earnings could afford.