LOANS to first-time buyers in Scotland have returned to levels last seen before the credit crunch, as the latest mortgage lending data shows an increase of nearly a quarter year-on-year.
There were 7,500 first-time buyer loans issued in the three months to the end of June, on a par with the first quarter of 2007, and up 23 per cent on the same period last year.
The total amount borrowed by those purchasing their first home was £790 million, a rise of 32 per cent year-on-year, tying in with increases in house prices.
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Figures compiled by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show the average first-time buyer north of the Border is borrowing about £95,000, equivalent to 2.98 times their salary and below the UK average of 3.46.
The average income of a first-time buyer in Scotland is now £32,300, against £30,700 in the first three months of 2014.
Linda Docherty, chairwoman of CML Scotland, said lending had remained "robust", despite the introduction of new Financial Conduct Authority mortgage market rules designed to tighten up lending and ensure people do not borrow more than they can afford.
Ms Docherty said: "We will need more time to understand the full effect of the new rules. House purchase lending has been the main catalyst of increased activity, with larger quarter-on-quarter growth in Scotland than the UK overall."
The growth in first-time buyers has been cited as a key factor behind increasing property prices. The average cost of a house in Scotland rose 5.9 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June, and stands at £162,000.
A total of 24,351 sales were registered across Scotland during the second quarter of 2014, the highest volume in six years.
The Help To Buy scheme has also been a major factor in attracting a large number of young people into the property market for the first time. However, demand for the financial assistance packages, where the Government lends money to help first-time buyers with low deposits buy a new-build home, was reportedly so high the scheme had nearly run out of cash by last month.
The Scottish Government said the initiative had enabled the purchase of 2000 homes since it launched last October.
Philip Hogg, chief executive of building industry body Homes For Scotland, called for action to ensure the scheme continues. "The Help To Buy (Scotland) scheme has proved an unqualified success. Frustratingly, however, given the very clear demand that exists, funding for this year has already run out," he said.
"This has significantly impacted sales, removing the confidence and certainty builders need to invest in much needed housing development."
The report also showed a sharp rise in loans to home-movers climbing up the property ladder.
There were 8,600 loans made to homeowners who were selling up and buying another property in the second quarter of 2014, an increase of 12 per cent year-on-year.
The value of home-mover lending was £1.2 billion, up 18 per cent on the same period in 2013. Homemovers in Scotland are now borrowing an average of £128,600 and have a gross household income of £49,100.