FTB activity surges to 20-year high in London

Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2024

The capital’s first-time buyers accounted for over a fifth of the total FTB market activity seen throughout the year. 

The latest research from London lettings and estate agents, Benham and Reeves, has found that while London’s first-time buyers may be getting older, a twenty-year high 181,000 FTBs secured their first foot on the housing ladder in a single year - marking a 24% annual increase.

Benham and Reeves analysed the latest government figures on first-time buyer market activity looking at how the number of first-time buyers has changed in what has become an increasingly difficult landscape for those without the existing financial foundation of housing market equity.

With the election looming, both parties have looked to win the vote of first-time buyers with housing market initiatives aimed at helping first-time buyers. The Conservatives have pledged to scrap stamp duty on purchases up to £425,000, while Labour will give FTBs first dibs on new development homes ahead of investors.

However, the analysis by Benham and Reeves suggests that London’s first-time buyers don’t need to be incentivised to get a foot on the ladder, with market activity having increased notably of late.

The average age of a first-time buyer in London is now 35.3 years old (2022-23), up from 33.8 years the previous year and 32 years old two decades ago (2003-04).

But despite London remaining the most expensive area of the UK property market, and with the addition of higher mortgage rates, 181,000 first-time buyers climbed the London property ladder in 2022-23.

As a result, London’s first-time buyers accounted for 21% of total FTB market activity seen throughout the year - the largest proportion seen since 2014-15 and the fourth largest in the last 20 years.

In contrast, the number of first-time buyers outside of London fell by -1.8% on an annual basis, marking a second yearly drop, with the 693,000 who did get a foot on the ladder also being the lowest total since the pre-pandemic market in 2019-19.

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, commented: “It’s quite remarkable that despite London boasting the highest house prices in the land, and with the additional complications of higher mortgage rates, the level of first-time buyer activity seen of late has increased drastically.

"This has no doubt been helped by the fact that London property values have cooled, presenting a great opportunity for those looking to climb the ladder. But it also demonstrates the desirability of London amongst buyers and it is this desirability that makes it one of the most resilient property markets on a global scale.

"So while we may now see a great deal of political pandering to first-time buyers in the lead-up to the election, the outcome is unlikely to influence the momentum that has been building across the London market when it comes to those making their first bricks and mortar purchase.”

Via @PropertyReporter