The National Association of Estate Agents’ (NAEA) market report for October shows that just 16% of overall sales made last month went to this sector, against 22% in September.
This is the biggest slump recorded by the NAEA in nearly three years – December 2008 was the last time agents reported such a decrease, when FTBs made up just 10% of the market share.
The number of house hunters registering at branches across the country also decreased slightly, with 305 per branch in October compared with 308 in September.
Overall, in October, sales remained consistent with an average of eight sales per branch. Similarly, supply levels remained in-line with figures in September, with 72 houses available.
NAEA President Wendy Evans-Scott said: “This week’s housing strategy announcement from the Government is welcome news for first time buyers. But our latest figures show that despite reported increases in mortgage approvals by the larger UK banks over the course of 2011, there is still a lending barrier facing those entering the housing market for the first time.”
Banks must be given clear incentives by the government to lend to first-timers, she said, with an extension of the mortgage guarantee beyond new-build homes.
However, last week, Alan Cleary, managing director at Precise said government quotas will not oblige lenders into lending in the first-time buyer market if it makes no commercial sense.