First-time buyers took advantage of the traditional summer lull to pick up some property bargains, according to figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
The supply of properties available to buy increased in July, while demand fell. First-time buyers FTBs clearly made the most of this, as the number of sales made to the group rose to an eight-month high. Almost a third (30 per cent) of all sales were made to first-time buyer in July.
However, renewed enthusiasm from this portion of the market wasn’t enough to prop up sales. The number of sales agreed per branch decreased. Land registry figures show that sales of new build property in June fell 8.9% on last year. In the year to end July 2018 new build house prices rose on average by 5.4% across the UK which is down on last year’s figure of 10.3%, according to the LSL New Build Index.
Overall, the number of house hunters registered at estate agents fell for the second month running with 303 registered per branch in July – the lowest recorded since December 2017 when agents had 268 on their books.
This is typical of July, as house hunters put their plans on hold while summer holiday season takes priority. For the last three years, demand has dipped in July compared to June.
Mark Hayward, Chief Executive of NAEA, said, “What we saw in July was typical of the summer. House hunters put their plans on hold as the holiday season takes priority, and demand dips as a result. We don’t usually see FTBs taking advantage of this environment and pushing to agree sales while sellers are on the back-foot. In September, buyers typically storm the market in a bid to complete sales in time for Christmas, so FTBs should make the most of the slower market while they can.”
First-time buyers are also taking advantage of government schemes. More than 420,000 people have now used Help to Buy to take the first step on to the housing ladder, according to new government statistics, with the average Help to Buy bonus claim reaching £800 – a new record.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government report that over 1.2 million first-time buyers have opened a Help to Buy ISA account so far, which contributes funds of up to £3,000 on top of the buyers’ savings.
Meanwhile more than 420,000 property completions have taken place using one or more of the government’s Help to Buy schemes, and more than 365,400 first-time buyer households are now on the housing ladder thanks to Help to Buy, the statistics found.
John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said, “With our stamp duty cuts and the lifetime ISA, we are delivering for first-time buyers.”
More than 169,100 property purchases have also taken place through the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme.
Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP, said, “This government is committed to helping more people get on the housing ladder, restoring the dream of home ownership for a new generation. Our Help To Buy: Equity Loan scheme has made this a reality for tens of thousands of households across the country, helping almost 170 thousand households purchase their home.”