This week’s cut in the Bank of England base rate to a record low means mortgage rates are set to stay low, helping an increasing number of people to climb on the property ladder. Already figures show 10 per cent more buying their first-home between January and June than during the same period a year ago.

Those who want to get the most for their money are heading to west and central Scotland, where five of the UK’s ten most affordable areas are to be found.

According to Bank of Scotland’s latest first-time buyer review, East Dunbartonshire offers the best value for new homeowners, with prices averaging £97,089 – equivalent to 2.6 times typical local earnings.

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Copeland, just over the Border in Cumbria, is the second most affordable place to buy, at 2.9 times the average local salary, closely followed by East Renfrewshire (three times) and West Dunbartonshire and Stirling (both 3.1). North Lanarkshire is the UK’s eighth most affordable area at 3.3 times earnings.

Nicola Noble, mortgages director at Bank of Scotland, said: “It’s great news for Scottish first-time buyers that five of the UK’s most affordable areas are in Scotland, with East Dunbartonshire topping the table.

“Over half of first-time buyers in Scotland are below £125,000, compared to the UK average of just under a third.”

Scotland’s least affordable areas are in the north and east, with a first home in Angus typically costing 6.1 times local earnings and in the Western Isles 5.8 times. East Lothian is next most expensive at 5.2 times, followed by City of Edinburgh at five times, the Highlands at 4.7 and Aberdeenshire at 4.5.

However, these prices are nowhere near as high as in the 10 least affordable English areas – all of which are in London – where the salary multiplier is between 12.5 and 10.2 times earnings.

In Scotland, the average first home costs £135,479, comfortably below the £145,000 threshold at which Land and Buildings Transaction Tax – the equivalent of the Stamp Duty levied in England and Wales – becomes payable.

The typical first-timer deposit is £21,751, which works out as 16 per cent of the average purchase price.

Ms Noble said: “Although many potential first-time buyers are facing escalating house prices and deposit sizes, record low mortgage rates continue to make buying seem a more attractive option than renting.”

As a result, first-time purchases have increased from 38 per cent of all mortgage-financed transactions in 2011 to an estimated 47 per cent this year.

May was a particularly busy month. Paul Smee, director-general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, said: “For the second month running, first-time buyers borrowed more than home movers, the first time in 20 years that this has been the case.”

Lenders keen to bag a share of his expanding market are offering deals designed to tempt renters onto the property ladder. Some include substantial incentives.

Halifax is wooing first-timers who successfully apply for a qualifying mortgage by 14 August a £500 gift card for Currys PC World.

Chris Gowland, the bank’s mortgages director, said: “Buying a home can be expensive, leaving little spare cash, which often puts buying ‘new home’ comforts to the bottom of the list. This offer will help ease the financial pressure.”

However, buyers looking to make limited cash go as far as possible should not be swayed without first doing some careful maths. What really matters is the overall cost of the deal, not the one-off sweeteners, and to calculate this, it is vital to take into account all associated fees as well as the interest rate.

Two of the cheapest loans for those able to put down a five per cent deposit come from Cumberland Building Society and Barclays Bank. The Halifax doesn’t have an equivalent 95 per cent deal.

The Cumberland has a five-year fix at 2.69 per cent with product fees of £199. The initial monthly repayment for someone buying a typical Scottish first home, costing £135,000, would be £587.70. Barclays has a fee-free three-year fix at 2.79 per cent, giving a monthly repayment of £594.26.

However, to continue getting good value, it is important to find a new deal when the initial low-cost period ends.

Someone staying with the Cumberland mortgage after it reverted to the society’s standard variable rate – currently 4.49 per cent – could pay a total of £200,621 over a full 25-year loan term, almost £19,000 more than they might be charged if they stuck with the Barclays loan, as it reverts to a lower standard variable rate, currently 2.99 per cent.

A purchaser able to put down a 10 per cent deposit – and afford a product fee of £1,475 – on that £135,000 purchase, could fix their repayments at 1.94 per cent for two years with Yorkshire Building Society, giving a monthly cost of £511.44.

For those keen to take up Halifax’s gift card offer, its cheapest 90 per cent two-year fix has a £495 fee and costs £583.58 a month. Allowing for the lower fee, higher monthly cost – and factoring in the £500 card – they would actually be £251 better off over the two years if they went with the Yorkshire instead.

If they could afford a 15 per cent deposit and find a £975 fee, they could fix for two years with Yorkshire at 1.57 per cent, cutting their monthly repayment to £462.71.