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Sales to first time buyers increased in March

As we reported earlier this month, property sales in general in March increased in England and Wales to their highest level since 2007. However, the really good news for those anxious to get their foot on the housing ladder is that due to changes in the stamp duty affecting buy-to-let property, more homes in the lower price bracket have become available allowing the first time buyer to buy their own property.

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) reported that of the total sales of property, 28% went to first time buyers an increase of 4% compared to the previous month of February. It is the firm belief of a large number of agents when asked, that the changes in stamp duty which saw the introduction of 3% rate on buy to let properties, plus also second homes, has increased the number of properties in the price range of first time buyers. It is also expected that more first time buyers will be able to enter the market due to the increased availability of suitable homes.

Figures show that the number of houses that have become available rose markedly by 54% and it this was shown in the number of properties on agents’ books which increased from 35 per branch to 54 in the month of March. Demand did fall last month, but this could be due to lack of interest from the buy-to-let sector and fell from the high in February when demand for housing was at the highest level in 12 years; again this could be down to the buy-to-let sector trying to beat the stamp duty change.

March has also seen a decrease in the practice of “gazumping” and agents’ have reported that there has been a decrease in properties selling for more than the original price asked, another outcome of landlords desperately trying hard to complete ahead of the rise in stamp duty, making things very hard for first time buyers.

Whilst things are now slightly easier for the first time buyer, shortage of housing still means that prices will remain high and it will be up to government to provide incentives or schemes that will significantly increase the housing stock, this is the only way that those struggling to get onto the housing ladder will see any difference.

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