The number of people who took their first step on the property ladder last year is estimated to have reached its highest levels since 2007.
Across the UK, there were 353,436 first-time buyers in 2019, slightly up from the 353,130 recorded in 2018 and the highest annual total since 357,590 in 2007, according to calculations from Yorkshire Building Society.
But there is still some way to go before first-time buyer numbers reach 2006 levels, when the annual total stood at 400,870.
The society used industry-wide mortgage data from trade association UK Finance up to October, as well as estimates for November and December, to calculate the total number of first-time buyers last year.
Nearly twice as many first-time buyers secured a mortgage in 2019 as at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 (191,040), with those entering the property market now accounting for more than half (51 per cent) of homes purchased with a mortgage. In 2008 this share was just 38 per cent.
Yorkshire Building Society strategic economist Nitesh Patel said: “Even though the number of first-time buyers has stayed pretty much the same as last year, it is still encouraging to see first-time buyers top 350,000 for the second year in a row.
“They also represent over half of all homes bought with a mortgage, meaning the first-time buyer mortgage market share is at its highest since 1995, when they bought 53 per cent of all mortgage-financed homes.”
He continued: “In recent years first-time buyers have been helped by strong competition driving mortgage rates down to near-record lows, making borrowing more accessible.
“Also, government schemes such as stamp duty relief, help to buy equity loans and help to buy ISAs will have made an impact.
“This combination of factors has made buying a home more accessible in recent years.
“This has seen the first-time buyer market bounce back from the financial crisis and perform better than other sectors, such as the home-moving and buy-to-let markets.
“However, as these figures show, the market may have now reached its peak and buying your first home still remains tough for many.”