2017 has begun on an encouraging note for home buyers â€“ and particularly for first-time buyers. According to the latest figures, released by the Mortgage Lender Association (MLA), there has been a sharp rise in mortgage completions for the first quarter of this year, when compared to the last quarter in 2016. Q4 in 2016 saw 48% of mortgages completed for first-time buyers, but this figure shot up to 69% for Q1 of 2017 for this group. It makes it clear that newcomers to the home-buying market are having more success than was the case in the past. â€œPlenty of competitionâ€ The figures will bolster the confidence of those who are currently looking to get a mortgage that will allow them to get onto the housing ladder for the first time. This is something Darren Pescod, managing director of The Mortgage Broker Ltd, wholeheartedly agrees with. â€œThere is plenty of competition in the mortgage market now,â€ Darren said, when the new figures were published. â€œLenders are competing with each other to try and gain a bigger share of the market, and this is benefiting many first-time buyers who may previously have struggled to get an affordable deal. Of course, it is still important to shop around for the best loan, even though the picture is looking much rosier for people in this part of the market.â€ A higher percentage of applications are leading to offers, too Another encouraging statistic that can be gleaned from the new research is that the percentage of applications leading to an offer from lenders has also increased. In the last three months of 2016, 70% of applications led to an offer from a lender. The first three months of this year, however, saw that figure rise to an impressive 84%. This shows that the situation regarding first-time buyers and the possibility of getting a mortgage may not be as dire as first thought. There are still challenges to be met, such as the prospect of house prices rising, wages staying at much the same level, and the challenge of saving for a deposit. However, it is heartening to realise that getting a mortgage offer is perhaps easier than some believe. â€œThe new figures are encouraging,â€ Darren Pescod added. â€œThere will be many would-be first-time buyers out there who will see these figures and wonder if perhaps they can be accepted for a mortgage after all. Lenders are also seeing a huge drop-off in buy-to-let mortgage applications, due to the new tax rules and other changes affecting that part of the marketplace. So, perhaps we are seeing an increase in competitiveness for the first-time buyers, as well as for home movers and buyers in other areas.â€ Certainly, there will be a great deal of interest in whether these figures will hold steady or even rise further in Q2 of 2017. For now, though, first-time buyers can be encouraged by the new picture, and the new possibilities in front of them.