Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

First-Time Buyers 'Returning Slowly'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

First-Time Buyers 'Returning Slowly'

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Wilson

FIRST-TIME buyers - critical in underpinning a firm housing market - are slowly but surely coming back into the North East property market, according to local agents.

Clive Rook, of Rook Matthews Sayer, says confidence has returned among first-time buyers, although mortgage finance is still a major stumbling block.

"Our experience is that people think we have passed the bottom," he said. "All the surveys say that prices are edging very slowly up."

Mr Rook says there are more firsttime buyers in the market now, compared to its weakest point 12 months ago.

"The number of first time buyers is below long-term average but it's improving," he said, adding that progress would be hindered if the Government decides to restore the stamp duty threshold from pounds 175,000 to its previous level of pounds 125,000. "Builders, mortgage lenders and estate agents are all lobbying hard to keep things as they are," he added.

Denise Craig, sales manager of Jan Forster Estates agrees. She said: "Confidence has returned so there are definitely more first-time buyers dipping their toes in the water again. The interest is there but the stumbling block is mortgages. The ones who have bought have done well.

"There has been a bit of a rush on, with talk of the stamp duty threshold being reduced from pounds 175,000. Our solicitors are working flat out to complete these sales by the end of the year just in case."

When it comes to accessing finance, independent financial adviser Craig Armstrong says first-time buyers with only a 10% deposit can expect to pay rates of around 6.5% to 7%.

"There are a few more deals out there at 90% but lenders are still being very, very cautious about the overall terms and conditions," he explained. "For example Nationwide will offer a 90% mortgage but you have to be an existing current account customer. …

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