It has always been a challenge for first time buyers to get onto the housing ladder. However recent figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders have shown that the year-on-year figures have been much improved when compared to the previous year.

The first quarter of 2014 compares favourably to that of 2013

The main figures are looking good in many areas. Indeed many might be surprised at the size of the increase of mortgages being approved for first time buyers.

Wales saw a total of 5,600 first time buyers being approved mortgages in the first three months in 2014. This represented an increase of 30% over the same three months last year.

Meanwhile first time buyers in Scotland also did well. The total number of first time buyer mortgages getting the nod in that country during the same three months was 5,900. This represented an increase slightly better than the one seen in Wales – 31% to be exact.

Over in Northern Ireland things were looking up too. A total of 1,600 mortgages were approved for first timers, which meant an increase of 33% over the same period of time last year.

What of the Greater London area?

England was well represented by the figures released for the Greater London area. Here a total of 11,900 first time buyer mortgages were approved during this same time period. This was akin to an increase of 29% over the same period last year.

In many cases the increases were actually down on the figures seen for the final three months in 2013. However it is quite normal to see a decrease over the early part of the year. The bigger picture – the improvement seen year-on-year and the strength of the improvement – is surely the bigger story.

How much are people borrowing on average?

This also makes interesting reading. Out of the four areas mentioned above, Northern Ireland residents are borrowing the lowest amount when compared to their salaries. This works out at 2.91 times their salary.

Next in line are the people living in Scotland: they borrowed 2.98 times the amount they are paid annually. Wales came next, with an average of 3.22 times their salary. And not surprisingly the residents of Greater London come in first place, borrowing an average of 3.83 times their salary.

The UK average of 3.42 times the person’s salary, so it can be seen Londoners are borrowing significantly more, whereas all other areas are well below the average, especially Scotland. Properties here are much cheaper than they are in London though, so this is partly to do with the discrepancy in the figures.

It will be interesting to see whether these figures continue along this vein in the next quarter. Will they rise compared to the first quarter and will they still be lower than the last quarter in 2013? Either way first time buyers are not finding it quite as difficult to get mortgages as some may believe.

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