Just over eight out of 10 of the first-time applicants through intermediaries went on to complete in 2017 – up from just over half a year earlier – data showed.
Borrowers taking their first step into home ownership have seen the biggest improvement in access to finance, according to IMLA.
For every 100 applications, an additional 21 first-time buyers completed on a mortgage in the final three months of 2017 compared with the same quarter a year earlier.
Specialist borrowers have also seen an improvement in access to finance, with the completion rate rising from 61 to 73 for every 100 applications year on year.
The rosier picture for the two groups has coincided in an uplift in broker sentiment.
Overall 95% of intermediaries were feeling confident about the outlook for the mortgage industry at the end of 2017.
And nearly two thirds were very confident for their business in the year ahead, IMLA’s market tracker found.
Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA (pictured), said: “The mortgage market has proved itself to be resilient over the last year and intermediaries have continued to play a vital role in joining the dots between lender supply and consumer demand.
“In particular, first-time buyers have benefited from widely available and competitively priced deals, even before the extra confidence boost of the Stamp Duty exemption announced in the Autumn Budget.
“Mortgage lenders can play their part in supporting access for first-time buyers, and our figures show they are clearly doing so.”
Louisa Sedgwick, director of sales at Vida Homeloans, added: “It is encouraging to see these latest figures showing a burgeoning first-time buyer market.
“The rise of lenders willing to help borrowers turned away from the high street and greater innovation in the market means more and more first-time buyers are securing properties.”