The number of first-time homebuyers in the UK has reached its highest level since 2007 in spite of rising house prices.

According to estimates from the Halifax, there were 144,500 first-home purchases in the first half of 2014, up by a quarter on the same period in 2013.

The number of first-time buyers fell to 72,700 in the first six months of 2009, less than half their pre-crisis peak.

“The resurgence in the number of first-time buyers getting on to the housing ladder has been buoyed by improving economic conditions, rising employment levels as well as government schemes such as Help to Buy,” said Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at Halifax.

The Help to Buy initiative allows buyers of new-build properties to borrow uo to 95 per cent of the purchase price.

While 60 per cent of first-time purchases exceeded the stamp duty threshold of £125,000 – over which a tax rate of 1 per cent is levied – there is a great variation across regions, reflecting the disparity in house prices across the country.

The average price paid by first-time buyers in Greater London, at £306,354, is almost three times higher than in the North – the least expensive region – where the average transaction was £110,410 in the first half of 2014.

Deposit levels also reflect these regional variations. First-time buyers in London in the second quarter of 2014 put down average deposits of £76,435. The national average was £31,129, a year-on-year increase of 9 per cent.

First-time buyers are also getting older, with their average age rising to 30 years from 28 in 2009, according to the Halifax. In London, the average age is 32.

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