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Are first-time buyers deserting the UK property market?

Figures released by the National Association of Estate Agents show there has been a significant reduction in the number of first-time buyers involved in the UK property market over the last six months. Just six months ago, 43% of all registered purchases were on behalf of those looking for their first home while last month this figure fell to just 19%. The figure of 19% matches the record low reached in December 2008 and has set alarm bells ringing within the sector.

One problem which may have assisted the sudden drop-off in first-time buyer numbers is the fact that the stamp duty exemption scheme is ending very soon. However, there is also a general knowledge within the marketplace that mortgage companies are withholding liquidity from the first-time buyer arena by increasing deposit requirements at a time when money is tight for many people.

Whether we will see a rebound in first-time buyer numbers in the first quarter of 2010 is debatable but we need to see first-time buyers join the party before any significant recovery in the property sector can occur. While 2009 has been one of the more difficult years in the history of the UK property market there is still some confusion and concern about 2010 and whether we could see a short-term drop-off in property prices.

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