First- Time Home Buyers Highest in Five Years
UK had most first-time home buyers for five years in 2012

The number of first-time house buyers in the UK reached a five-year high in 2012, thanks to falling house prices and improved mortgage availability, according to Halifax's First-Time Buyer Review.

The number of new first-time home owners stood at 216,000 this year, up 12 percent from a year ago, accounting for two-fifths of all home purchase loans. In 2011, there were 193,000 first-time buyers.

"The number of first-time buyers has risen to a five-year high, boosted by the improvement in affordability resulting from the reductions in both house prices and mortgage rates in recent years," said Martin Ellis, a housing economist at Halifax.

According to Halifax, the average age of first-time buyers rose to 30, from 29 a year ago.

Halifax also found a significant rise in the number of areas in the UK where buyers on average wages can own a house - 39 percent in November, against 5 percent in 2007.

However, London remains the most difficult destination for a first-time home buyer. The average age of a first-time buyer in London is 32. Britain's north-west was found to be the most affordable region.   

Though the proportion of first-time buyers has increased from 38 percent to 40 percent in the past year, the gloomy economic situation and rising deposit requirements are seen as dampeners, according to Halifax.

The average deposit needed to buy a house rose to £27,984, a 20 percent increase in 2012, and double what was required in 2007.

The average price paid by a first-time buyer also rose, to £139,921, a 3 percent rise over the previous year.

Halifax noted that: "Conditions for potential first-time buyers, however, remain very difficult with problems raising the necessary deposit and concerns over the economic climate continuing to prevent many from entering the market.

"Despite some positive steps with schemes such as NewBuy, the numbers of those buying their first home remain low by recent historical standards."