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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Property market slows, first-time buyers increase

A new report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has revealed that sales to first-time buyers grew in September, accounting for 29% of all properties sold. It is the highest volume of sales to first-time buyers since May, when this demographic also accounted for 29% of property transactions.

Better mortgage provision for first-time buyers has helped to boost sales, the report also found.

"We saw an average nine sales going through per branch in September, which means that for each branch around three sales were made [to first-time buyers]," Mark Hayward, managing director at the NAEA, commented.

"We're seeing a whole range of new competitive mortgage products coming on to the market, which is likely to be encouraging first-steppers to take the plunge, as well as the fact that the "impending" interest rate rise has now been pushed back to next year at the very earliest."

Despite the positive activity for first-time buyers, the total number of people looking to buy fell in September, correcting a burst of property hunters during the summer months. The NAEA found that registration per estate agent dropped to 342 per branch, 26% lower than in July.

Additionally, the volume of properties on the market also tumbled to 37 per branch, 31% fewer than in July.

Although Hayward said sales to first-time buyers would stay subdued until the supply of new homes - and the numbers of new properties being built - went up dramatically, he also believes that the Housing and Planning Bill, announced last week, is a move in the right direction.

"'If we could just get supply and demand to meet in the middle, the housing market would be functional again; it's a real issue across the market at the moment," Hayward added. "Developers are struggling to secure planning permission and labour is in short supply... It's completely unsustainable.

'There are still nine house-hunters fighting for each property and new housing just isn't being built quickly enough."

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