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First-time buyer numbers hit highest level since 2006

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First-time buyer mortgage completions hit their highest level in 12 years in 2018, data from UK Finance shows.

There were 370,000 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in 2018, compared to 402,800 in 2006, with new lending up by 4.9% compared to 2017, standing at £62bn.

First-time buyer mortgages completed in December were also up 1.6% compared with the same month a year earlier.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “The mortgage industry helped 370,000 people buy their first home in 2018, the highest number in 12 years, as competitive deals and government schemes such as Help to Buy continue to boost the market.”

However, analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today shows the average first-time buyer age has risen by eight years over the last two decades.

More than half of first-time buyers in 2017 were 34 or older, compared to 26 in 1997.

The ONS said soaring house prices and tighter lending controls were to blame for the increase.

Homemover down, remortgages up

Meanwhile, the UK Finance data showed a continued pattern of increasing remortages and fewer homemovers.

In 2018, there were 367,800 new homemover mortgages completed, some 1.9% less than in 2017.

December saw 30,000 new homemover mortgages completed, down 1.3% year-on-year.

In contrast, 476,900 new homeowner remortgages were completed in 2018, up 10.8% over 2017, with 34,000 new homeowner remortgages completed in December.

BTL home purchase mortgages

Buy-to-let mortgages followed a similar pattern with purchases down over the year and remortgaging significantly up.

There were 66,400 new buy-to-let home purchases completed in 2018, 11.5% fewer than in 2017, and 169,100 new buy-to-let remortgages completed, 11.2% more than in 2017.

Mortgage market continues to show resilience

Bennett said: “Demand for new buy-to-let purchases continues to be dampened by recent tax and regulatory changes. However, the number of buy-to-let remortgages reached a record high of almost 170,000 last year, suggesting many landlords remain committed to the market.”

Kevin Roberts, director of Legal and General Mortgage Club, said the mortgage market continues to demonstrate its resilience.

“The number of mortgage products available are at some of the highest levels we’ve ever seen and combined with competitive rates, this is continuing to entice borrowers, particularly first-time buyers.

“For any borrowers unsure of how the current climate will affect them or how they can take potentially take advantage of it, speaking to a mortgage adviser is a great place to start.

“Through their extensive knowledge and access to the whole of market, these experienced professionals will be able to match a borrower’s unique circumstances with the right mortgage product.”

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