A third of Britons have their sights set on buying a home
More people have their sights set on buying a home in the next few years amid signs of growing optimism in the housing market, research has found.
One third (33 per cent) of Britons surveyed have ambitions to buy a property within five years, showing a jump from 29 per cent when similar research was carried out a year ago, the Post Office said.
Two-fifths (39 per cent) of people who are planning to make a purchase will be first-time buyers, a sector that has particularly struggled in recent years, with many would-be buyers trapped in the rental sector.
The study suggested that Government schemes to unblock the flow of lending have generally boosted buyers' confidence about their ability to get a mortgage.
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One in six (16 per cent) people surveyed said that they have no chance of being able to raise enough cash for a deposit, showing a sharp drop from nearly a quarter (24 per cent) when research took place last year.
However, the findings also suggest that the market is likely to be busier in London and the South East, where house prices have already been holding up relatively strongly.
Almost half (48 per cent) of Londoners, and 37 per cent of people living in the South East plan to buy a home in the next five years, compared with 26 per cent of people in the North East and 30 per cent in the North West.
Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of people surveyed in Scotland, and 25 per cent in Wales, said that they plan to buy a property in the coming years, showing lower proportions than the average across the study.
The number of mortgages on the market has increased and lenders have been slashing their rates following the introduction of the Government's Funding for Lending scheme last August, which aims to encourage borrowing by households and firms by giving lenders access to cheap finance.
More than 3,000 homes have also been reserved under the Government's NewBuy scheme, which was launched last March and gives buyers with a deposit of just 5 per cent a helping hand to buy a new-build property.
Recent Bank of England figures have shown steady increases in the number of mortgage approvals to home buyers and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) also recently reported an uplift in lending to first-time buyers.
The CML said it feels more positive about the UK housing market and the wider economy than it did a year ago.
John Willcock, head of mortgages at the Post Office, said: "It's really encouraging to see such optimism among potential homebuyers."