The number of first-time buyers increased by 7 per cent in December 2011, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
There were 18,700 first-time buyer loans advanced in December, worth £2.3bn, up 7 per cent by volume and 10 per cent by value from November.
There was also an increase in the proportion of properties, from 50 per cent to 53 per cent, bought by first-time buyers within the price band currently exempt from Stamp Duty, making it likely they are beginning to rush through purchases before the concession ends in March.
Those moving home, however, experienced a seasonal decrease in December from 29,300, worth £4.8bn in November, to 28,700, worth £4.6bn.
Overall, December saw an almost unchanged house purchase market from November. House purchasers took out 47,400 loans, worth £6.9bn, a 1 per cent increase in volume, with no change in the value, from the previous month and 7 per cent up from December 2010.
The number of loans for remortgage, however, declined 15 per cent from November but the 28,100 loans, worth £3.6bn, taken out increased by 10 per cent in volume from December 2010 following a low period for remortgaging.
It was a mixed picture for the mortgage market in 2011 as a whole. Remortgage lending increased by 17 per cent from 2010 to £47bn, while house purchase lending, at £75bn, was 6 per cent down on the previous year.
CML director general Paul Smee says: “We have been expecting a flow of first-time buyers onto the market as the Stamp Duty exemption ends in March and December’s figures appear to show this has now begun.
“The market in 2011, while still subdued, saw a welcome increase in annual gross lending for the first time since 2007, when the financial crisis began. With the Eurozone problems still rumbling on however, we believe there is still a real risk that this year’s lending levels will be lower than those seen in 2011.”