2020 saw a fall in the overall number of first-time buyers, according to Halifax.
The overall number of first-time buyers in 2020 was down by over 46,000 (13%) compared to 2019 (304,657 vs 351,260), with the onset of the first Covid-19 lockdown causing the property market to temporarily stop.
However, first-time buyer transactions recovered strongly in the second half of the year (up 52% from 121,050 in H1 to 183,607 in H2) once the market reopened. Comparing the second half of 2020 to the same six-month period in 2019, first-time buyer transactions were down by just 2% (compared to -26% in H1).
In total, the number of first-time buyers as a proportion of all homes purchased with a mortgage remained stable last year at 50% (vs. 51% in 2019 and 50% in 2018).
Northern Ireland (-23%), Wales (-23%) and Scotland (-21%) experienced the biggest decreases in the number of first-time buyers last year. London’s first-time buyer figure fell by the smallest percentage of any region, down by just 6% year-on-year.
Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: “Whilst these figures confirm the almost inevitable fall in the overall number of first-time buyers in 2020 – with the entire housing market effectively shuttered during the first national lockdown – they also underline just how strong the bounce back was in the second half of the year.
“Despite the obvious challenges presented by soaring house prices, not least the need to raise an even bigger deposit, first-time buyers still accounted for half of all home purchases, a reassuring statistic given their overall importance to the market.
“However, with the economic impact of the pandemic likely to be felt most keenly by the young and those in lower-paid jobs, the need to prioritise improved housing availability and affordability for all those looking to make that first step onto the property ladder becomes ever greater.”