By Daniel Hunter

60% of the house purchase loans taken out in Northern Ireland in the first quarter of 2012 were to first-time buyers, according to new data released from the Council of Mortgage Lenders in Northern Ireland.

This was up from 58% in the final quarter of last year and the highest proportion since 2001.

Despite the increase in first-time buyers' share of the market, there is little evidence that the stamp duty concession boosted their numbers in Northern Ireland. The majority (75% in the first quarter of 2012) of first-time buyers in Northern Ireland purchase property under £125,000 - the lower threshold for the stamp duty concession to take effect.

First-time buyers in Northern Ireland borrowed on average £73,350 in the first quarter of the year, down 9% (£80,495) from a year earlier and down 40% (£122,000) from the peak in the third quarter of 2007. They typically borrowed 83% of their property's value in the first quarter, down from 84% in the last quarter but up compared to an average of 81% a year previous.

The proportion of income consumed by the mortgage interest payments of first-time buyers in Northern Ireland increased in the first quarter, from an average of 12.7% in the final quarter of 2011 to 12.9% in the three months to March 2012. This was lower than the average in Northern Ireland a year ago and significantly lower than the peak of nearly 22% seen in 2008. 1,200 loans, worth £100 million, were taken out by first-time buyers in the three months to March, 14% down (17% by value) from the last quarter of 2011 but 33% up (25% by value) from the first quarter of 2011.

For home movers, the number of loans advanced was unchanged compared to the same time last year, but fell compared to the last quarter of 2011. 800 loans (worth £90 million) were taken out by home-movers, compared to 1,000 loans (worth £120 million) in the final quarter of last year and 800 loans (worth £90 million) in the first three months of 2011.

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