The first time buyer is back with a vengeance. The number of people getting on to the property ladder in Britain for the first time is back to 2007 levels.

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The twice-yearly Halifax First Time Buyer Review reported that around 144,500 first time buyers took possession of the keys to a property in the first six months of this year, up 25 per cent on 2013 levels.

Craig McKinlayCraig McKinlay, mortgages director at the Halifax, cites the generally improving economy, rising employment and the Government’s Help to Buy scheme for their return. He also notes that almost half of this year’s first time buyers managed to escape Stamp Duty by buying under the £125,000 threshold.

Naturally, this is a feat a lot easier if you live in the North West than the South East, but there are thousands of homes listed at prices on or below £125,000 on Zoopla.Patrick Paton

Patrick Paton, of estate agents Smiths Gore in Berwick upon Tweed, says buyers could buy a two to three bedroom cottage either within the town or in the countryside around it.

He advises buyers to hone in on properties that have taken time to sell and where the owners might be open to offers. “Look for properties that have been on the market for a little while and haggle,” he said.

He also suggests considering very carefully whether taking on a run-down home makes financial sense. “Doing a property up takes time and eats into spare cash so if the property really needs a new kitchen, you might be better to spread that extra £10,000 across a mortgage by buying a property that already has a nice kitchen,” he added.

Mark Pedley, a sales negotiator at Hunters in Manchester said it is still possible to buy a one bedroom flat right in the city centre for below £125,000 – perfect for young professionals. For those prepared to for a slightly longer walk to work flats in this price range beyond the city’s ring road might also come with extras like a parking space and a balcony.

His advice to buyers is to hone in on an area poised for regeneration, and swoop while prices are rock bottom. In Manchester this could be the central suburb of Ancoats, still slightly grubby around the edges but in a convenient location and the focus for millions of pounds worth of regeneration work right now. “It is the sort of place where you might well make a profit,” said Pedley.

In Thetford, Norfolk, Mark Dickenson, director of Hudson Property Services, says buyers have plenty of choice for under £125,000. They could pick up a one bedroom flat from around £75,000 or a two bedroom flat from around £95,000. The full £125,000 would buy them a two bedroom house in the town centre.

He says buyers looking for a deal should search out areas that have been held back by poor local transport links, but where improvements are imminent. Thetford’s prices are currently low in part because the 33 mile drive along the single carriageway A11 to Cambridge is “horrendous” and can take up to an hour each way.

This winter, however, works to turn the road into a dual carriageway will be completed, slashing journey times by up to half. This, believes Dickenson, will encourage more commuters to look at the town, boosting prices. “My advice would be to get in early,” he said.

For sale for less than £125,000:

1. In Taunton, Somerset your first buy could be small but extremely stylish, not to mention pocket friendly at £53,000. This studio apartment within a grand period house, with use of a good-sized communal garden.

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2. A smart two bedroom period cottage in Bolsover, Derbyshire, could be yours for £68,000.

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3. First time buyers not afraid of a challenge could pick up a great dooer-upper, a potentially outstanding Georgian Grade II listed double fronted townhouse with scope to extend in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. The property is on the market for £70,000 so there might even be enough money left to make the necessary repairs.

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4. London commuters could opt for a quirky one bedroom weatherboarded cottage in Sandhurst, Kent, available at £124,950.

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5. Inland Devon has some great bargains compared to the coast, like this two bedroom terrace in pretty Buckfastleigh, on the market at £120,000.

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6. Commuters to Cambridge or Norwich could move to the market town of Thetford, Norfolk, and select a two bedroom house within walking distance of the town centre, for £117,000.

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7. But if you want to be in the thick of things The Roof Gardens, a trendy development of flats in the very central Castlefield area of Manchester, are available from £119,000 and will be move in ready next year.

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8. Even London buyers can get in on the act, although they are likely to be restricted to outer suburbs and ex-local authority flats, like this one bedroom home in Woolwich, available for £119,995.

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Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. Zoopla strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advice from a qualified professional.

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