First-time buyer sales soar last month as landlords abandoned the market following the introduction of the new stamp duty surcharge on 1 April.
There were 32,300 completed first-time buyer transactions in the month, up 14.9% from 28,100 in March.
This was the highest monthly sales total since June 2014, almost two years ago, according to new figures from estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains.
However, affordability is getting stretched, with first-time buyers paying an average of £168,656 in April, up £20,000 on a year ago
The average first-time buyer deposit has increased £3,300 in the past year, despite the rise in high-LTV lending.
First-time buyer numbers were 50.9% stronger than the 21,400 seen in January 2016 as demand from buy-to-let landlords fell.
Completed first-time buyer sales grew 37.4% over the last year, with just 23,500 first-time buyer completions in April 2015.
Adrian Gill, director of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, said the figures are an encouraging signal to aspiring first-time buyers: “This surge in sales shows that demand is steadfast among first-time buyers – despite upward movement in house prices.
“In the short-term, first-timers may be finding that competition for properties has eased slightly following a period of intense pressure on landlords to meet the stamp duty surcharge deadline at the beginning of April.”
Gill said that once you scratch beneath the surface of these positive monthly figures a darker long-term picture emerges.
Cutting landlords out of the housing market will push up rents and make it harder for first-time buyers to save a deposit, he said.