ESTATE agent Connells is already seeing some encouraging signs that 2013 will be a better year forfFirstitime buyers to get on the housing ladder.

“Over the past few years property prices have generally not kept pace with inflation and there are currently a wide range of homes available at very attractive prices from sellers who are committed to moving,” says James Skelding, of Connells in Halesowen.

The main problem faced by first-time buyers in recent times has been getting a mortgage and raising the sort of large deposit demanded by lenders. Now however, as the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme starts to have an impact, lending restrictions are easing and we are even seeing the return of 95% loan-to-value products. With interest rates at a historically low level, monthly mortgage payments can usually work out cheaper than renting.

Many new homes developers are offering shared ownership or shared equity incentives to assist those who are unable to put down a hefty deposit. For instance, the Government backed FirstBuy scheme provides eligible first-time buyers with up to 20 per cent of the value of the property they want to buy in the form of an equity loan.

Buyers need only save for a 5 per cent deposit with the remaining 75 per cent of the balance paid for with a conventional mortgage, giving them access to more favourable rates.

Mr Skelding added: "We are also now seeing a much larger volume of second-hand property coming onto our books so, with more choice available, now is definitely the time to be getting on the ladder."