The number of first-time buyers getting on the property ladder with a mortgage in the last 12 months was at its highest level since 2006, according to estimates from a building society.
Across the UK, 367,038 first-time buyers secured mortgages in 2018, up from 362,800 in 2017, analysis from Yorkshire Building Society suggests.
The figures suggest first-time buyer levels now represent half (50%) of all homes bought with a mortgage.
The Yorkshire said its findings indicate the first-time buyer mortgage market share across 2018 reached its highest levels since 1995, when 53% of all mortgage-financed homes were bought by first-time buyers.
It made the calculations based on market-wide first-time buyer data from trade association UK Finance using figures which run up to October.
The society also estimated figures for November and December based on previous first-time buyer patterns.
The analysis indicates the number of first-time buyer mortgages in 2018 was nearly double of that in 2008 (193,300) and stood just 9% lower than a pre-crisis peak of 402,800 in 2006.
Nitesh Patel, Yorkshire Building Society’s strategic economist, said: “Property prices have grown at a faster rate than wages over the past decade, which has created difficulties for first-time buyers.
“Various factors have helped to alleviate this challenging environment, although the market is still pretty tough for those wanting to become homeowners.
“However, the figures indicate that Government initiatives such as stamp duty relief, Help to Buy equity loans and Help to Buy Isas may have made an impact.
“Over the past three or four years, we’ve also seen more mortgage lenders offering 95% loan-to-value mortgages, as well as strong competition driving mortgage rates down.”
He said while buying a home may have become more accessible in some ways “getting on to the housing ladder is still not an easy step for many young people, as demonstrated by the increasing numbers who have received help from the bank of mum and dad”.
He added: “Despite these challenges, the first-time buyer market has bounced back following the financial crisis to outperform other sectors, such as the home-moving and buy-to-let markets.
“Buying your first home remains tough for many but it’s encouraging to see first-time buyer levels at a 12-year high and climbing.”