The National Association of Estate Agents says there is light at the end of the tunnel for first-time buyers seemingly unable to afford to get on the property ladder.

It says sales to first-time buyers were up in March and agents expect to see further increases in sales to the group as a result of the stamp duty surcharge.

Some 28 per cent of the total sales made in March were to FTBs according to the NAEA, representing an increase of four per cent from February.

Some 39 per cent of agents expect that the stamp duty surcharge will deter buy to let buyers and create reduced competition for FTBs.

Last month, the supply of houses available to buyers soared by over a half 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.

“The last few months FTB’s 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” says Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA.

“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 struggling to get on the housing ladder.”

Neil Newstead, FARLA MNAEA
CEO – Oakfield Estate Agents