First-time buyers at highest level since 2007, says Halifax
The number of first-time buyers in 2014 rose to its highest level in seven years, according to one of the UK's largest lenders.
The Halifax estimates that 326,500 people bought their first house or flat last year - a rise of 22% compared to 2013.
That was the highest total since 2007, at the start of the financial crisis.
The main reason was cheaper mortgage rates, government schemes such as Help to Buy, which require small deposits.
"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.