First-time-buyer numbers are up by almost a quarter year-on-year, lenders have said, amid signs that Government efforts to encourage mortgage lending are trickling down to people with smaller deposits.
A total of 21,700 loans worth £2.7 billion were advanced to first-time buyers in November, marking one of the highest monthly totals seen in the last three years, said the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
The figures meant that first-time-buyer numbers were up by 24% compared with a year earlier and increased by 8% month-on-month.
The uplift, along with increased activity among home movers, contributed to a 6% rise in the number of loans for house purchase in November, and year-on-year increases in activity are likely to continue, the CML said.
For the second month in a row, first-time buyer loans accounted for 41% of all house purchase loans, compared with the longer-term average of 38%. The only month when first-time buyer numbers have been higher since the end of 2009 was in March last year, when there were just over 24,000 loans, as first-time buyers rushed to complete deals before the end of a stamp duty concession, said the CML.
Its latest figures provide evidence that a multi-billion pound Government scheme to boost lending which was launched in August is giving people with lower deposits a helping hand on to the property ladder.
Lenders have been slashing their rates since the Funding for Lending scheme started and mortgage availability has also increased, but there have been concerns that much of the strongest competition has been aimed at people with bigger deposits.
The CML's figures also showed that despite the increased activity, first-time buyers still typically need to put a 20% deposit down to buy a home, a share which has remained unchanged from a year earlier. CML director-general Paul Smee said: "Encouraging activity in the first-time buyer sector in November contributed to an uplift in house purchase lending, suggesting that the underlying trend for year-on-year increases should continue. We expect the Funding for Lending scheme to continue to encourage a downward drift in interest rates.
The CML's latest figures also showed that a total of 31,100 loans worth £5 billion were advanced to home-movers in November, representing a 5% month-on-month increase and a 6% annual uplift. The typical percentage of home-movers' incomes spent on their mortgage payments drifted down slightly month on month to 19.1%, although this is still slightly higher than a year earlier.
The rise in first-time buyers and home-mover activity meant that, in total, there were 52,700 house purchase loans advanced in November worth £7.7 billion, representing a 6% month-on-month increase.