What a difference a year makes...

This time last year, buy-to-let landlords were snapping up properties before the April 2016 increase in stamp duty and were proving to be tough competitors in the housing market for first time buyers.

This year, however, according to Rightmove there are more smaller properties available to first-time buyers, because there are fewer landlords seeking properties compared to this time last year. Available housing stock has increased and the increase in supply means that first time buyers have more opportunity to negotiate and get a great deal on their first property.

However, it's not all plain sailing. The average price for first homes has increased by 6.4% in the last year, and with relatively stagnant wages, affordability is becoming more of an issue than ever. According to a recent report in the Telegraph, there has been a recent increase in the number of people relying on the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' with 1 in 12 purchases partly funded by a family member or friend.  

So, this year, for first time buyers, it's a mixed picture. On the one hand, there's less competition from landlords and more choice of properties, but on the other, first time buyers may struggle to pass lender affordability tests and parents may feel under pressure to assist with the costs of house buying. The picture is not the same across the UK however. In certain areas house prices have fallen slightly. Wales and the North East of England, for example, have fallen between 1 and 2%. In the East of England, in contrast, prices have risen around 6%. This increase in prices however, may now be mitigated by the stronger negotiating power of first time buyers who have less competition from landlords. And with low mortgage rates on offer, lenders are trying to attract first time buyers to get onto the property ladder.

Policy initiatives may also help first time buyers.  For example, the government is investing £1.2 billion in the Starter Homes Land Fund, and the much-anticipated Housing White Paper, due this month, is predicted to detail radical changes to improve the supply of housing.