FIRST-TIME buyers now make up over half of the market in the UK, new research shows.

People buying their first home account for 51 per cent of sales and their number has increased by 21 per cent since 2008, reaching the highest level for a decade, according to lender Halifax.

The research also shows that first-time buyers pay an average of £208,741, some 21 per cent more than the £172,659 paid in 2008 and Brent in London is the least affordable location for those stepping onto the housing ladder.

But they are older and the average age of a first-time buyer is now 31, two years older than a decade ago, and they need to save up for a deposit amounting to £33,127 on average as the average price of first-time buyer properties has out-performed the overall housing market.

In London, the average first-time buyer property price has seen the greatest increase at 48 per cent during the last 10 years to £419,608, followed by the South East with a rise of 37 per cent to £275,632 and East Anglia up 30 per cent to £210,639.

There were relatively modest price rises in the North of eight per cent and in Wales of nine per cent while in Northern Ireland the average first-time buyer price is a third lower, down 33 per cent to £124,035 and the lowest in the UK.

First-time buyers are now putting down record deposits for their first home. Nationally the average deposit is £33,127, an increase of 71 per cent from £19,364 in 2008.

However, owning their own home remains a dream for many young people but half of 18 to 34 year olds think it’s harder than ever to get on the housing ladder and almost one in five say they believe they’ll be renting forever.

The research also shows that the number of first time buyers increased by around three per cent in the first six months of 2018 to 175,500 compared with 171,200 in the same period in 2017.

“First time buyers are having to dig deeper than ever to get onto the property ladder,” said Russell Galley, Halifax managing director.