More first-time buyers than ever are using government schemes to help them onto the housing ladder, according to data collected by reallymoving.

The research shows that 17.2% of first-time buyers used either a Help to Buy equity loan or Shared Ownership to get onto the housing ladder in 2020.

This is up from 15.4% in 2019 and 13.1% in 2018.

Almost 300,000 homes bought using HTB equity scheme

Shared Ownership was the most popular option, accounting for 10.1% of all first-time buyer transactions last year, compared to 7.1% opting for a Help to Buy loan.

As a result of rising house prices, the average first-time buyer is now required to raise an additional £10,800 for  a deposit, increasing the average amount paid to £57,279.

Changes to both Help to Buy and Shared Ownership will come into force at the beginning of April 2021.

The new Help to Buy scheme, running until 2023, will be restricted to first-time buyers and will operate with regional price caps in place.

Meanwhile, the new Shared Ownership scheme will allow buyers to purchase a minimum share of 10% compared to 25% previously, and will permit staircasing in instalments of 1%, rather than 5% or 10% currently.

In addition, a new 10-year period will be introduced for maintenance and repairs, whereby the landlord or housing association will be required to cover costs rather than homeowners.

Furthermore, reallymoving has launched a new price comparison service for property valuations, enabling homeowners who have bought through Shared Ownership or Help to Buy Equity Loans to arrange a RICS valuation of their home.

Alongside price comparison tools for conveyancing, surveying, removals and EPCs, the valuation service will allow users to compare the fees of up to four RICS-regulated chartered surveyors in their local area, from a panel of experienced professionals.

Rob Houghton, chief executive of reallymoving, said: “Based on the current average first-time buyer purchase price of £249,000 in the UK, buying a 10% stake in a shared ownership property could require a 5% deposit of just £1,246 – an attractive prospect for those looking for an affordable way onto the housing ladder.

“We’re now seeing record levels of First Time Buyers using either Shared Ownership or Help to Buy, with the impact of the pandemic boosting demand further as buyers struggle to raise even larger deposits required by lenders, on top of higher house prices.”