Sales to first time buyers increased in UK in March

Sales to first time buyers in the UK were up in March and real estate agents expect to see further increases in sales to the group following the buy to let stamp duty changes.

Some 28% of total sales in March went to people buying their first home, an increase of 4% compared to February, according to the latest housing market report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

The report also says that 39% of estate agents expect the stamp duty change which saw the introduction of 3% rate on buy to let properties and second homes to increase availability for first time buyers as interest from investors slows.

More than a third of estate agents, some 36%, argue sales to first time buyers will pick up further, due to less competition for properties.
Overall, the supply of houses available to buyers soared by54% in March from 35 properties available to buy per branch in February to 54 in March.

On the other hand, demand decreased last month, when agents reported an average 417 house hunters registered per member branch, down from 463 in February when demand for housing was at the highest level in 12 years.
In March, estate agents also reported a decrease in the number of properties selling for more than asking price. Only 7% of agents saw this happen in March compared to 11% in February.
‘The last few months first time buyers have had to compete with landlords for the same properties and those landlords have really pushed hard to complete ahead of the rise in stamp duty,’ said Mark Hayward, NAEA managing director,.

‘Now, in theory things should get easier for first time buyers as we have seen with a slight increase in sales this month and as those seeking to buy to let will tail off,’ he explained.
‘However in reality, it’s unlikely in the long term that first time buyers will notice a huge difference, as prices remain high and housing is in short supply. The Government needs to significantly increase the number of homes that are being built in this country to really make a difference to those that are struggling to get on the housing ladder,’ he added.