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Demand from movers outpaces first-time buyers as house prices increase

First-time buyer interest is weakening while movers are making the most of their opportunity to buy without stamp duty

young couple moving into new home

Existing homeowners now account for a greater number of moves, according to Zoopla’s house price index. 

The percentage of people moving up or down the ladder is 37% higher than before the pandemic and 53% higher year on year. 

Demand from first-time buyers has eased off, although it’s now equal to pre-pandemic levels and still well above 2019. 

Much of the demand from movers is due to people reevaluating their home after lockdown, with many moving on in search of more spacious homes and more green space. 

This means that while more homes are coming onto the market – and there are currently 10% more homes available to buy than this time last year – many are available at a high price point. 

Combined with fewer high loan-to-value mortgage deals and continued economic uncertainty, first-time buyers are now in a tougher position. 

Strong sales figures have driven the continued increase in UK house prices, with the annual growth rate for August increasing to 2.6% from July’s 2.5%. This puts the average UK house price at £218,262, according to Zoopla. 

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla, said: “A change in the mix of buyers is supporting market conditions with sustained demand from equity rich existing owners seeking more space and a change in location.

“In contrast, first-time buyer demand is weakening. First-time buyers have been a driving force of housing sales over the last decade.

"They remain a key buyer group but lower availability of higher loan-to-value mortgages and increased movement by existing homeowners means a shift in the mix of buyers into 2021.”

In early July, the government announced a number of measures to help the UK’s economy recover following the impact of Coronavirus. One of these was its holiday on stamp duty, which boosted an already strong housing market – but is unlikely to benefit first-time buyers. 

If you’re looking to take that first step on the housing ladder and want to work out where in the UK you could afford to live, take a look at the BBC’s housing calculator.

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