Number of mortgages for UK first time buyers doubles in three years

The number of mortgage products available to first time buyers in the UK has doubled in the last three years, while rates have dropped by 1%, new research shows.

Since 2012 the number of 95% mortgages available has increased by 448%, according to a study from online comparison site MoneySuperMarket.

But the firm says that first time buyers should always be mindful of the whole cost of a mortgage and not be lured by a headline rate.

The number of overall mortgage products available to first time buyers is currently 2,776 and this is partly due to the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. In addition, the average rate on first time buyer mortgages has dropped by 1% in the last three years to 3.26%.

With the average loan to value (LTV) required for first time buyers remaining flat over the last three years at 79% compared to 78% in April 2012, those looking to get their first foot on the ladder would need to find a deposit of £31,500 on a £150,000 property. However, under the scheme a 5% deposit on the same property would cost £7,500.

The research says there are 170 mortgage deals currently on the market available to those with just a 5% deposit, an increase of 448% since 2012 when only 31 products available. In addition, average rates have decreased by 1.04% to 4.72% on average.

‘The increase in the number of first time buyer mortgages, and the corresponding fall in interest rates, can only mean good news for those looking to get a foot on the ladder. Even better, borrowers who can scrape together a 10 or even 15% deposit will find they are able to get their hands on more competitive deals,’ said Kevin Mountford, head of banking at MoneySuperMarket.

‘The introduction of the Government’s Help to Buy ISA which will see the Government provide up to £3,000 towards a first time buyer’s deposit, could also help prospective home owners get themselves into a new LTV bracket, thus helping them secure a more competitive deal,’ he added.

But he pointed out that for anyone looking to buy their first home, it’s important not to be led by interest rates alone when comparing mortgages. ‘Expensive fees can wipe out the potential benefit of a lower rate so it’s worth doing the sums first to ensure you really are getting a great deal,’ he said.

‘Whilst mortgage approvals were up 7% overall on March, this doesn’t mean that lenders’ criteria is becoming more relaxed. After the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review, borrowers not only need to have a strong credit score, they also need to prove that they can afford the mortgage they’re applying for, not only at its current rate but, if rates should rise in the future,’ he explained.

‘Finally, also think about whether you want a fixed or variable rate deal. Fixed provides security that your rate won’t change during the term of the deal. Whilst variable rates tend to be cheaper, you need to ensure that you will be able to afford your monthly repayments if and when interest rates do rise,’ added Mountford.