First-time buyer market improves with stamp duty holiday

More First-Time Buyers came through estate agents' doors last month than at any point in the previous eight months, according to the National Association of Estate Agents.

Figures from its January Market Report show that 23% of overall sales made last month were to FTBs, compared with 21% in December.

This represents the third consecutive monthly increase in sales to FTBs. The number was last this high in May 2011 (24%).

NAEA President Wendy Evans-Scott said: “First-Time Buyers seem to be making the most of the Stamp Duty Holiday before it comes to an end in March. The NAEA and other property specialists campaigned hard for the Government to introduce the tax exemption to support First-Time Buyers, and these latest figures certainly suggest that stamp duty is a key factor for those on tight budgets purchasing their first home.  

“We are deeply disappointed that Ministers have axed this support for a crucial part of the housing market which has benefited so many house-hunters in getting onto the property ladder.”

The NAEA's report also shows that the number of house hunters registering at branches across the country decreased slightly, with 260 per branch in January compared with 294 in December.

Overall sales increased slightly across the property market in January, with an average of six per branch compared with five per branch in December. In contrast, supply levels dipped to their lowest level in 19 months with an average of just 60 properties available to house-hunters.

Evans-Scott said: “Earlier this month the Chancellor announced plans to enable a new Bank of England committee to set loan-to-value ratios on mortgages. Our latest figures show just how fragile the housing market can be; therefore any efforts to prevent unsustainable property bubbles and unwanted house price deflation are to be welcomed.

“At the same time the Government also needs to take into consideration that requiring aspiring buyers to have even larger deposits than are currently demanded risks excluding even more young people from the market.”