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First-time buyers return

12 March 2004
First-time buyers accounted for 20 per cent of all house sales this February, the highest level for almost a year, according to the latest survey from The National Association of Estate Agents.

The NAEA concluded that, although the figures fall short of the recent peaks of 25 - 30 per cent, the report should quash fears that first-time buyers are being priced out of the market.

The survey found that 100 per cent of estate agents believe a hike in stamp duty could lead to a crash in prices, while 90 per cent think a one per cent interest rates raise will only marginally affect prices.

Melfyn Williams, President of the NAEA, said: "This month's survey shows that the housing market has rebounded to healthy levels not seen for a year. First time buyers are making a tentative comeback into the market as activity and demand increases.

"However, despite its buoyancy, the market is by no means the runaway train of a housing boom and the market could be 'hit for six' if the Chancellor is foolish enough to impose stamp duty increases in Wednesday's Budget."

The survey also found that house price inflation soared from eight per cent to 11 per cent in February.