10% of Britons (5.1 million people) are likely to buy a new home in the next 12 months, up from 3.7 million in January 2012, according to a new survey.
The research, carried out by Santander Mortgages, found a growing sense of optimism in the UK housing market, with 57% of potential buyers feeling more positive about their prospects this year.
The government’s Help to Buy scheme may be partly responsible for this increase in buyer confidence; a third of those who intend to buy said that they are likely to use the scheme. However, the scheme has also been criticised by some, who claim it will cause another housing ‘bubble’, by artificially increasing prices. Indeed, over half of homeowners surveyed by Santander predicted a rise in house prices.
Younger people were found to be the most likely to buy, with 18% of those aged 18-34 saying they are likely to buy a home in the next year, as opposed to 9% of 35-54 year olds and 8% of over 55s.
There were also regional differences in confidence levels; Londoners were the most confident, with 20% expecting to buy. At the other end of the scale, only 2% of people in Wales felt the same way.
Despite an overall increase in confidence, there are still plenty of people for whom buying is not a feasible option. For those who felt unable to buy, the most significant obstacle was raising money for a deposit; 16% of people cited this as their reason for being unable to buy in the next year. Younger people are the worst affected by this, with a third of them saying a lack of deposit money is holding them back.
Phil Cliff, director of Santander Mortgages, said:
“The UK has seen a number of encouraging economic statistics emerging in recent weeks and months and our findings suggest a significant increase in confidence in the housing market. Help to Buy is certainly stimulating the market and the extension of the scheme from January 2014 should see existing homeowners who have been unable to move entering the market again.”
He added that “it is still vital that prospective buyers look around for the best deals and get some sound advice in terms of properties and mortgages, however.”