How to do more to help 1st-time buyers

More should be done to encourage first-time buyers to purchase their own home. NAEA Propertymark, the body representing UK estate agents, says even a 10-year high in FTBs getting on to the market isn’t enough.

Recent figures from UK Finance said mortgage lending for first-time buyers was at its highest in a decade in December 2017.

However, NAEA Propertymark said too many first-time buyers are holding off on starting to look for a home of their own because they want to make the most of the recent Stamp Duty Land Tax reforms. First-time buyers no longer pay the land duty on the first £300,000 of a property transaction, potentially saving thousands of pounds on the average purchase.

NAEA Propertymark has made a series of suggestions to encourage more newcomers on to the property ladder.

They include:

  • Introducing longer fixed-rate mortgages with more affordable monthly repayments but that don’t require a bigger deposit up front
  • Offer incentives across the market to get people in larger properties to move, freeing up accommodation to let first-time buyers move up the ladder
  • Build more affordable housing
  • Reduce the costs of moving, including cheaper surveyor costs and a subsidy for solicitor’s fees
  • Less stringent mortgage criteria, particularly for the self-employed and contractors

Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “The Government’s announcement to abolish stamp duty for FTBs has helped buyers feel like the process is more affordable. FTBs are struggling, particularly when it comes to saving for a deposit, and this needs to be addressed.

“Positively, however, FTBs are being practical. Since the stamp duty reforms, we have seen evidence that outside of London in particular, they are delaying their search until they have more money saved in order to purchase a bigger property.

“This means they’ll be able to stay in the property for longer, making the most of the stamp duty saving and helping their money go even further.”