First-time buyers return to property market

imageFirst-time buyers made a surprise return to the housing market in January while repossessions fell to a four-year low, in some rare good news for the property market.

The number of mortgages given out in January was 58,610, an increase of 30 per cent on last January, according to chartered surveyors E.serv.

Of these loans, over 15,300 were lent on homes costing less than £125,000, the price bracket that typically attracts first-time buyers. This represents a rise of almost a third since last year, and was the highest number of mortgages given out on such properties since March 2008.

Richard Sexton, a director at E.serv, said that first-time buyers are rushing to buy properties before the Government’s stamp duty holiday – which allows first-time buyers to avoid the 1 per cent duty on homes costing under £250,000 – ends in March.

Meanwhile figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showed that the number of homes that were repossessed in 2011 was 36,000, the lowest since 2007.

Paul Smee, director general at the CML, said that low interest rates and good financial management by lenders are helping people in financial difficulty “keep their homes and get back on track”.

However some commentators said that repossession rates will inevitably rise.

Mark Blackwell, managing director of mortgage and property data company xit2, said: “Repossessions are only being kept low by lenders’ generous forbearance policies, which they can’t afford to sustain in the long term.”

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