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Numbers every first-time buyer should know

Looking to buy your first home? Check out these numbers to see where you stand.

Words by: Laura Howard

It's natural to feel a little overwhelmed when you're embarking on the important life stage of buying your first home. But you are far from alone, as our first-time buyers numbers show.

First-time buyers accounted for 51% of all properties bought with a mortgage last year, according to our analysis - up from just 38% in the previous year.

Our researchers have been crunching the numbers around the first-time buyer market, which we’ve matched with some useful tips and information to help you get a homeowner head start.

The numbers every first time buyer should know


This is the average cost of a first-time buyer home, according to our data. But, of course, it varies across the country.

Use our interactive map to see:

  • the average cost of a first time buyer (FTB) home in your local authority

  • the household income required to get a mortgage

  • the average type of property first time buyers enquire about on Zoopla


This is the average deposit put down by first time buyers, according to UK Finance, which represents the nation’s mortgage lenders. It compares to just 9% in the mid-1990s.

On the flipside, mortgages which require a 10% deposit or less have been growing in popularity and now account for 30% of all deals, up from just 9% at the beginning of 2010, according to Moneyfacts.


This is the salary you’d need to show a mortgage lender in order to buy an average two-bedroom property in London, according to our calculations.

This is because, while the interest rate you see on your mortgage deal might be a typical 2%, banks and building societies carry out their affordability sums based on a much steeper rate of around 7% – something known as stress-testing.


This is the ‘stress-tested’ salary you’d need to buy a typical home in the rest of Great Britain. Again, if the sums were based on the actual mortgage rate of 2%, you’d only need to show an income of £20,000.


This is the average age of first-time buyers in the final quarter of 2019, according to UK Finance.


This is the average number of years of a first-time buyer mortgage – up from the more traditional 25 years recorded just a decade ago. 

Longer term mortgages have become more widely available in recent years, although they are usually coupled with age restrictions. For example, Halifax will lend over 40 years subject to a maximum age of 80 at maturity.

Couple moving into first home

3 bedrooms:

This is the property size that's most popular with first-time buyers outside London. 

Richard Donnell, director of research and insight at Zoopla, says first-timers are "leap-frogging past the traditional one and two-bedroom starter homes and taking a longer-term view of homeownership".

However, two-bedroom homes remain the most popular in London where first-time buyers face the greatest housing and affordability pressures.


This is the proportion of people using the government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme to buy a new-build property who've been first time buyers since its launch in April 2013.

Help to Buy provides an equity loan of up to 20% of the property value (rising to 40% in London) as long as you have already raised a 5% deposit. For the first five years the loan remains interest-free but after that you’ll start to be charged.

Details of Help to Buy schemes, such as property price caps, vary across the UK so find out more with our guide.

You should also carry out these five checks to see if it's the right scheme for your circumstances. 

March 2021:

This is when the current Help to Buy scheme closes but it's set to be replaced with another one which will run for a further two years. The new scheme will come with slightly different rules, such as price caps varying by region rather than country.


Good news if you’re saving for a deposit and haven't reached this milestone birthday –  the government’s Lifetime ISA is an option open to you.

You can save up to £4,000 a year into the savings account until you reach 50 – and for every pound you save, the government will throw in an extra 25p tax-free. You can then choose to put the cash towards a deposit on your first home or take it in retirement.

Read more about Lifetime ISAs here.


This is the proportion of all homes purchased with a mortgage by first-time buyers in 2019.

Richard Donnell, our director of research and insights, says: "First-time buyers have been the driving force behind the housing sales market in recent years, with improving mortgage availability and lower rates supporting their growth."

Despite higher prices, one in five people who bought their first home in 2019 did so in the South East, while 12% bought in London, according to mortgage lender Halifax.


This part of a home’s value is free from stamp duty for first-time buyers. To qualify, you (and anyone you are buying with) cannot have ever owned or part-owned a home before. 

Since the start of 2018, around a month after the tax break was introduced, 70% of first-time buyers have either paid less in stamp duty or paid no stamp duty at all, our analysis found.

The perk only applies to homes worth up to £500,000, though. If you're paying more than this, you’ll be treated like any other buyer. This means paying stamp duty on homes worth over £125,000 at a starting rate of 2%.

Find out more about whether you qualify for the first time buyer stamp duty break.

New build flats in London


This is the number of new homes the government has pledged to build during this Parliament – which ends in 2024. It means building at a rate of around 220,000 properties a year, but numbers have previously fallen well short of this.


This, for example, is the number of new homes completed in the 12 months to June 2019, according to the government’s own figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It marks an 8% increase on the same period of the previous year.


First-time buyers look set to continue to be the largest group of buyers in the market.

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We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.