There has been a warm welcome given to figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders showing that lending to first time buyers continues to outnumber those for buy to let purchases by three to one.
“Confidence among buyers is high now that the prospect of interest rate rises has been kicked even further into the long grass. Perhaps surprisingly we are seeing just as many first-time buyers keen to take advantage of record low mortgage deals as investors trying to beat the stamp duty hike” explains Jeremy Leaf, a former RICS chairman and north London estate agent.
“The interest rate issue is prevailing over stamp duty hikes and other concerns: first-time buyers are saying that there are cheap mortgage rates now so they want to take advantage of them” he says.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says that while borrowers may be tempted to snap up a cheap mortgage deal this year, affordability constraints will continue to hold some people back on the lending front.
“The number of first-time buyers continues to grow, as they take advantage of the plethora of high loan-to-value deals available. However, the good news is that first-time buyers do not seem to be overstretching themselves as they are paying close to a record low proportion of their monthly household income to service their mortgages” he says.
The CML figures show that first time buyer activity is back to pre-crisis levels with loans for purchases in 2015 totalling £46.7 billion - the highest level of activity since 2007.