Halifax estimates there were 120,000 first-time buyers during January-June 2013, up from 101,000 in the first six months of 2012.
This is the highest total since the first six months of 2007 where there were 181,500 recorded first-time buyers.
Improvements in mortgage affordability and government schemes such as New Buy and Help to Buy have contributed to the increase in first-time buyers, Halifax said.
However, more first-time buyers are paying Stamp Duty. Over half (51%) of all first-time buyer purchases in the first half of 2013 were above the £125,000 stamp duty threshold. This is up from 44% a year earlier.
In London, 97% of first-time buyers bought homes above £125,000, while one in three in the capital paid more than £250,000, resulting in them being liable to duties of more than 1%.
The average age of a first-time buyer is now 30, up from 29 in 2011.
Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at Halifax, said:”The significant increase in first-time buyers is encouraging, although the number of those buying their first home still remains low by recent historical standards.”