By Jonathan Davies

The number of first-time buyers in 2014 hit the highest level since 2007, according to Halifax.

The mortgage lender said that 326,500 people bought their first house or flat in 2014, up 22% from 2013.

The key reason for the rise in first-time buyers was cheaper mortgage rates thanks to the continued record low 0.5% interest rates set by the Bank of England, and government schemes like Help to Buy.

"Improving economic conditions and rising employment levels have boosted confidence among those thinking about getting on to the housing ladder for the first time," said Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at the Halifax.

Evidencing the impact of schemes like Help to Buy, which require buyers to pay lower deposits, the average deposit fell by 7% in 2014. The typical deposit was £29,218, down from £31,582.

And Halifax said that first-time buyers spent less of their income on mortgage payments. In 2007, they were spending an average of 50% of their monthly income on the mortgage. But that figure has dropped dramatically since, falling to 32%.

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