The number of people jumping on the property ladder is at its highest level since before the financial crisis, a report finds.

First-Time Buyers Surge Despite Price Rise

The number of people buying a home for the first time surged to a seven-year high last year, despite prices rising by an average of 9%.

The Halifax First Time Buyer Review charted a 22% increase in those purchasing their first property, hitting 326,500 in 2014.

It marked the highest level since before the financial crisis as average prices rose to £172,000, Halifax said.

However, the report noted that the average cost of a deposit for first-time buyers fell 7% in 2014 to £29,218 – helped by record-low interest rates and an improvement in competition for mortgages.

House prices grew in the first half of the year, spurred by initiatives such as the Government’s Help to Buy scheme.

Video:Dec: Osborne’s Boost For Buyers

But in the second half of the year fears of a housing bubble saw the Bank of England impose stricter lending limits on borrowers in a bid to cool the market.

Halifax mortgages director Craig McKinlay said: “First-time buyers are vital for a properly functioning housing market.

“Improving economic conditions and rising employment levels have boosted confidence among those thinking about getting on to the housing ladder for the first time, contributing to the significant increase in the number of first-time buyers in the past two years.”

It is believed a pick-up in construction of new homes and a recovery of wage growth versus inflation will help stimulate the market in 2015.

Video:Aug: First-Time Buyers Hits High

The report also stated that Chancellor George Osborne’s changes to stamp duty last month reduced the average first-time buyer’s tax bill by £781.

The average age of a new purchaser rose to 30 from 29 in 2013, while the region with the oldest average age was London at 32, the report found.

The Government said that its Help to Buy schemes had supported more than 71,000 home-buyers.

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