There is a first time for everything - even buying your house it would seem!

Some more good news for the optimists amongst us this week. The number of mortgages available for first-time buyers has increased by nearly a quarter since the start of the year seemingly because banks have started to relax their lending criteria – and about time too!

The people at are responsible for bringing us this piece of happy news with their survey showing a 22% increase in the amount of home loans available to people buying their first home since January with a much improved 1647 different deals now on the market.

The biggest increase has been in the availability of deals for people who are able to pay a 20% deposit with these (thankfully) soaring by 76% since the start of the year. First-time buyers who need to borrow 85% of their home''s value have also seen a big increase in choice with the number of different deals available rising by a third to 280 while there has also been a massive 51% rise to 169 mortgages for those with just 10% to put down.

And the good news doesn’t stop there. Lenders have also started reducing the typical interest rate they charge on mortgages for people borrowing 75% 80% 85% and 90% of their home''s value.

The biggest drop has been seen to 85% loan-to-value (LTV) deals with the average cost of these falling by nearly 1% to 5.02%. The reduction means that a first-time buyer borrowing £150000 will now incur monthly mortgage repayments of £879down from an average of £965 in January if they had borrowed the same amount –and at nearly £100 a monththat isn’t to be sniffed at.

That said Vince Cable still has an important bank bashing job to do. Banks and building societies remain steadfastly reluctant to lend money to people who can only muster a 5% deposit with the number of mortgages available at this level increasing by a pathetic 1% since the start of the year - to just 10.

The pesky lenders have also increased the rates they charge on home loans for people with only a 5% deposit with these rising by 0.2% since the start of the year to average 5.4% .

The site editor of Clare Frances was widely quoted in the press as saying; "It''s encouraging to see the number of mortgages available for those with reasonably small deposits increasing but there is still a premium on rates for loans available between 80% and 90% discouraging many first-time buyers.

A shortage of first-time buyers is evident around the country with many people struggling to sell their properties.” I am inclined to agree.

Getting more first time buyers onto the property ladder is a win win for existing homeowners and would be buyers alike and we need the banks to do more to help this sector of the market to realise their property dreams.

In the meantime Miller Homes is doing all it can to help anyone struggling to buy. For first time buyers (and households on a lower income) we have MiWay – a very popular shared equity package which enables househunters to own 100% of their home now and dependant on circumstances could pay as little as 75% now- with the remainder coming from a long term loan provided by us. Anyone taking up this offer has ten years in which to pay back the loan (the first five of which are interest free) unless of course they sell in that time.

We’ve still got a few homes with Homebuy Direct funding available too. Just like MiWay it enables buyers to own a new home now but pay just 70% (subject to qualifying criteria) with Miller Homes and the Government lending the rest.

If that doesn’t appeal we have Deposit Match – which does exactly what is says on the tin and for anyone struggling to sell we have Home Exchange – a unique offer which is available only through Miller Homes. Newly launched and much loved Home Exchange allows buyers to swap their current home for one of our selected plots even if there is absolutely no difference between the value of the two.

So househunters of all ages and equities – take heart. There is good news out there – so says and Miller Homes!

Sue Warwick - National Sales & Marketing Director Miller Homes