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The last time first time buyer mortgage completions were this high the iPhone had only just been launched and the world was on the verge of a financial crisis. So does this indicate that things are looking brighter for first-time buyers and are we seeing the same growth across all sectors of the mortgage market? First the good news. First-time buyers have for years struggled to get on the property ladder as house prices have rocketed in some areas of the country, London and the South East, in particular, meaning big deposits have been required for even more modest properties.
There were 35,010 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in August 2019 which marks an increase of 0.7% in August 2018. This was only a fraction below the 35,070 mortgage completions seen in August 2007. The increase in first-time buyer mortgage completions may be due to a range of favorable factors including an increase in wage growth of 3.8% in Great Britain as a whole according to figures released by ONS. This puts wage growth above the rate of inflation and will have given a pay boost to many first-time buyers.
This alone would not have been sufficient to see an increase in mortgage completions and further factors are likely to have played a part. Property prices have risen by just 1.1% annually in 2019 according to the ONS which will have given some relief to those saving hard for a deposit, which can often be around the £50,000 mark for an average priced property. Another factor is likely to be the various incentives offered to first time buyers including help to buy and the ditching of stamp duty on homes up to £300,000. Mortgage rates for first-time buyers are also low as competition heats up among lenders and there is evidence that first-time buyers are able to mortgage at a higher loan to value than before which will also have increased affordability.
The same good news hasn’t arrived for other sections of the mortgage market, however. Just as static house prices benefit first time buyers, potential home movers are likely to be put off selling their properties in a near static housing market even though they will have access to plenty of low rate mortgage products.
The buy to let mortgage sector is also showing further signs of decline as landlords have been hit by falling profits due to new tax rules being introduced on buy to let properties which have reduced the amount of tax that can be offset against mortgage interest. Looking on the bright side for landlords, there is a reported to be a shortage for rental properties which is pushing up average rents to new highs.
Average asking rates were up 3.2% outside London while London saw a 5.6% increase. As a result, new buy to let home purchase mortgages completed in August were down 3.3% compared to the same month in 2018.
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