By Claire West

Brits are upbeat about the property market, according to new research1 from Santander Mortgages, which reveals that 10 per cent of Britons (equivalent to 5.1 million people) believe they are likely to successfully purchase a new home in the next 12 months, up from 8 per cent (3.7 million) in January 20122.

The government's Help to Buy scheme is a major cause of increased confidence, with a third (33 per cent) of those who think they will purchase in the next 12 months saying they are likely to get assistance from the scheme.

The findings reveal that younger people are the most likely to buy, with 18 per cent of those aged 18-34 saying they are likely to purchase a new home. This is compared to 9 per cent of 35-54 year-olds and 5 per cent of those aged 55 or over.

Overall 57 per cent of those planning to buy a home are more positive about their prospects of being able to do so than a year ago, compared to only 8 per cent who are more negative.

By region, Londoners are the most confident about their chances of purchasing a home in the next 12 months, with one in five (20 per cent) believing it is likely they will do so. This is up by just under 50 per cent from the level of confidence at the start of 2012 (13 per cent). At the other end of the scale, only 2 per cent of those in Wales think they are likely to buy a new property in the next 12 months.

Of those who are likely to buy a new home this year, a third (33 per cent) will be first time buyers, while just under a third (32 per cent) are already homeowners and intend to move. A further 13 per cent will be buying an additional property to the one they already own and 11 per cent plan to buy to let.

Obstacles to home purchase

Of those who feel they are unlikely to buy a new home this year, the most significant obstacle is not having enough money for a deposit (16 per cent). This is a particular problem for those aged 18 to 34, a third (32 per cent) of whom cite this as a reason for not purchasing in the next 12 months. This is, however, significantly less than the 42 per cent of 18-34 year-olds who claimed this was an obstacle a year and a half ago, further supporting the argument that the Help to Buy scheme is having a positive effect on confidence.

One in 10 people (11 per cent) say they can't afford to buy in the area they want to live in and 8 per cent are simply unable to get a mortgage.

Five per cent of aspiring home buyers say they can't find a property they like within their price range; an additional 4 per cent say unemployment is the main reason for not buying; and 3 per cent say it's because they are worried about losing their job. Others have made a conscious decision not to buy, with 4 per cent preferring to rent.

Homeowners confident of price increases

Homeowners are very confident that house prices will rise this year, with 57 per cent of them anticipating an increase in the value of their property compared to just 4 per cent predicting a fall in value. This is a significant increase in confidence since the beginning of 2012, when 29 per cent anticipated a price rise compared to 17 per cent expecting a fall. Over a third of homeowners (37 per cent) expect their property's value to remain static over the next 12 months.

Those in London are the most confident that the value of their home will increase, with 79 per cent believing it will do so compared to only 2 per cent who believe it will fall. Indeed, optimism is greatest all over the South of England, with 64 per cent of homeowners in the South East and South West expecting the value of their home to appreciate.

Phil Cliff, Director of Santander Mortgages, said: "The UK has seen a number of encouraging economic statistics emerging in recent weeks and months and our findings suggest a significant increase in confidence in the housing market. Help to Buy is certainly stimulating the market and the extension of the scheme from January 2014 should see existing homeowners who have been unable to move entering the market again.