Number of first-time buyers topped 300,000 in 2020 despite pandemic

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The annual number of first-time buyers exceeded 300,000 for the sixth time in the past seven years, accordingly to an estimate by Yorkshire Building Society.

The number of first-time buyer mortgages for 2020 was down 14.5% on the previous year as the pandemic took effect but still remained higher than any year during the financial crisis.

Half of the total mortgage approvals for the year were for those buying their first property, which was similar to the 2019 figures.

The disruption caused by Covid-19 lockdowns affected the number of mortgages taken out as well as the number of sales and purchases throughout the year. With valuations unable to take place for two months early on in the crisis, completion dropped sharply.

However, the Stamp Duty holiday boosted the market, with the total number of homes sold in the UK in March 2021 at a 16-year high and prices in April 2021 rising at their fastest rate for five years.

The Stamp Duty holiday is set to be phased out from 30 June 2021, with a reduced rate applying until 30 September 2021.

Nitesh Patel, Yorkshire Building Society’s Strategic Economist said: “Given the significant challenges of 2020, it’s not surprising the number of first-time buyers has fallen. It is however encouraging that more than 300,000 mortgages were completed enabling people to buy their first home, despite the restricted availability of low deposit mortgages, rising house prices and the economic impact of Covid-19, which has particularly affected younger consumer groups.

“The overall housing and mortgage market has been remarkably resilient in 2020, partly thanks to the temporary Stamp Duty cut, which has benefitted owner occupiers. Higher levels of disposable income for those who shifted to working from home and a strengthened desire for homeownership amongst prospective first-time buyers will also have helped.

“Over the next year, two factors are likely to impact first-time buyers. Firstly, the current Help-to-Buy scheme comes to an end in March, and the follow-on scheme is more restrictive in terms of regional house price caps. And secondly, the expected rise in unemployment is likely to weigh heavily on the young, with younger workers already bearing the brunt of falls in income throughout the pandemic.”

The importance of good conveyancing for first-time buyers

The conveyancing process can be daunting, particularly for those encountering it for the first time. Common concerns include how long the process will take, whether any potential problems with a property will be missed and, of course, how much it is going to cost.

At WSP Solicitors, we will advise and guide you throughout the transaction to ensure you have the help that you need.

We will make sure that you know exactly what will be happening next and what is needed from you. We will also make sure that we keep you updated as to progress and that we are available to answer any questions you have.

Once you have found a property to buy, your seller’s solicitors will send us the contract and accompanying paperwork, to include a copy of the title to the property and standard replies to enquiries. This means we can spot any potential issues early and see that they are rectified.

We will raise further enquiries and also apply for the necessary searches on your behalf. This will generally include a local search (which will reveal issues such as planned development in the locality) a water and drainage search and an environmental search. This enables us to identify any possible issues with the property that could affect you after the sale has gone through.

Once we have acceptable responses, we will go through the documentation with you to ensure that you are happy with everything. You will then sign the contract and transfer your deposit via us to the seller.

We will then arrange to exchange contracts with the seller. If there is a chain involved, then it will be necessary for everyone in the chain to be ready to exchange. At the point that contracts are exchanged, a completion date will be set and you will be legally committed to complete the transaction.

You should then arrange to send us any balance of money to be paid by you and we will organise for any mortgage advance to be sent to us.

On completion day, we will send the rest of the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor and once it has been received, the estate agent will be instructed to release the keys to your new home to you.

We always respond straightaway to correspondence to ensure that a sale or purchase proceeds as quickly as possible. We can discuss with you the likely timescales involved and you can be assured we will always do everything we can to meet them.

Contact our conveyancing solicitors in Gloucestershire

At WSP Solicitors our Residential Property Conveyancing Department has experience across the full range of residential property transactions. We understand how stressful the conveyancing process can be and we work tirelessly to ensure that your transaction will proceed as smoothly as possible.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a property and you would like to talk to one of the expert conveyancers, please contact your local WSP branch in Gloucester, Stroud or Dursley today.


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