Property news: Glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel for first time buyers

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Sales to first time buyers were up in March and agents expect to see further increases in sales to the group following the buy-to-let stamp duty changes, according to a new report from the National Association of Estate Agents.

The association’s March housing report says three in ten (28 per cent) of the total sales made in March were to first time buyers (FTBs), 
an increase of four percentage points from February.

Further, two fifths (39 per cent) of estate agents expect the buy-to-let (BTL) stamp duty reforms to increase availability for FTBs – as 
BTL investors back away – further boosting sales for the group. More than a third (36 per cent) of estate agents argue sales to FTBs will pick up further, due to less competition for properties.

Last month, the supply of houses available to buyers soared by more than half (54 per cent) – 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 seven per cent of agents saw this happen in March, compared to 11 per cent in February.

Mark Hayward, managing director, National Association of Estate Agents said: “The 
last few months FTBs 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.

“Now, in theory things should get easier for FTBs – as we have seen with a slight increase in sales this month – as those seeking to buy to let will tail off.

“However in reality, it’s unlikely in the long term that FTB’s will notice a huge difference, as prices remain high and housing is in short supply.

“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 strauggling to get on the housing ladder.”

NAEA is the UK’s leading professional body for estate agency personnel; representing over 7,000 members who practise across all aspects of property services.

It is dedicated to the goal of professionalism within all aspects of property, estate agency and land.

Its aim is to reassure the general public that by appointing an NAEA member to represent them, they will receive in return the highest level of integrity and service for all property matters.