The first quarter of 2020 saw the number of properties bought through the Help to Buy scheme drop by 9% on the same quarter last year, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG ) has revealed.

MCHLG data shows that some 9,515 properties were purchased in Q1 2020, down from 10,405 in Q1 2019.

The total value of properties sold through the Help to Buy scheme also dropped 4% on the same quarter last year, falling to £2.9bn in Q1 2020, down from £3.1bn in Q1 2019.

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Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, said: “The latest Help to Buy data reveals the severe impact the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic had on a key driver of activity in the UK’s property market.

“The UK’s lockdown and tight safety measures caused an enforced sharp drop in demand for new properties eligible under the Help to Buy scheme.

“However, as restrictions start to loosen and government incentives such as raising the Stamp Duty threshold come into play, we are starting to see early signs of an uplift.

“The average property price purchased by first-time buyers under the Help to Buy Scheme now stands at £305,414 for Q1 20201, well below the new £500,000 threshold.

“Any cost savings gained through the Stamp Duty subsidy may be enough to incentivise first-time buyers to push ahead with purchases.

“First time buyers are more likely to have been hardest hit by the pandemic, meaning they should be prioritised. Ensuring they are given adequate support will be key to speeding up the property market’s recovery.

“In order for the market to meet any surge in demand, we need to cut delays in the sales process through the adoption of technology and better use of data at the very start of the transaction.

“This will save headaches for conveyancers, ensure housebuilders get paid faster and that buyers can move in quicker, all contributing to a more resilient property market.”