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3 Mar

First Time Buyer Tracker - February 2015

Posted 3/03/2015 by: Reeds Rains

Stamp duty changes push first-time buyer  deposits to 18 month high

  • January sees average first-time buyer deposit rise to £29,127, 15% higher than a year ago
  • Average first-time buyer house purchase price tops £160,000 for first time on record
  • First-time buyer completions fall 19% on a monthly basis, due to dip in applications over Christmas

First-time buyer deposits have climbed 15% in a year to average almost £30,000, driven by lower stamp duty bills for new buyers, according to the latest First Time Buyer Tracker from Reeds Rains.

The average first-time buyer deposit was £29,127 in January, up 7% compared to December 2014 and 15% higher than £25,314 in January 2014. First-time buyers are saving the largest amount for their deposit since July 2013, eighteen months ago, as savings from December’s stamp duty changes take effect.

This has also helped drive rising purchase prices for first-time buyer homes, which have climbed to a new record. New buyers paid an average of £160,304 in January, 12% more than £143,343 twelve months ago.

Revisions to the stamp duty slab system have reduced the upfront costs for many first-time buyers, allowing them to divert that cash into a deposit fund. First-time buyers paying the average purchase price would have been liable for stamp duty fees of around £1,600 before the graduated system was implemented, but this would now have been reduced to £700 – saving them roughly £900.

Simultaneously, as wages start to see a significant pick-up in real terms, growing purchasing power is reflected in the average first-time buyer LTV. Loan-to-value ratios have fallen 1.1 percentage points over the last three months, suggesting deflation and growing wages are allowing first-time buyers to put together slightly larger deposits.

Despite this, the average loan-to-income ratio for first-time buyers has risen on an annual basis. On average, deposits now represent 75.4% of a first-time buyer’s income, compared to 70.6% a year ago.

Adrian Gill, director of estate agent Reeds Rains, comments: “A fusion of economic factors is alleviating some of the financial burden of forming a deposit. Wages are starting to recover and inflation has fallen to a record low, meaning buyers have slightly more cash to play with day-to-day. And stamp duty fees were slashed for many new buyers when the government reformed the old slab system, freeing up further funds. It’s still difficult to save – with savings rates tied closely to the low base rate. But it’s easier to put cash aside than it was a year ago.

“However, property prices have pushed a new record for first-time buyers, meaning these extra funds are being diverted directly into larger deposits. Putting together a deposit to buy a property remains one of the most arduous tasks for prospective home-buyers, and schemes like Help to Buy are essential to allow the swathes of buyers reliant on higher LTV mortgages to get onto the housing ladder.”

More details about the First time buyer tracker can be found here