FIRST-time buyers in Cumbria find it harder to get on the property ladder than in other parts of the country, according to a building society.

Research by the The Cumberland showed first-time buyers accounted for 44 per cent of all homes bought with a mortgage in Cumbria from January to October 2018.

Last year's figures also showed a drop in the number of first-time buyers compared to the same period a year before.

The Cumberland said that, nationally, a recent report suggested first-time buyers were at their highest level for 20 years - accounting for 50 per cent of all homes bought with a mortgage - and double what they were in 2008.

The building society said it is believed a number of government-supported Help to Buy schemes have helped, but their impact appears to have been less pronounced in Cumbria.

The Cumberland believes people may be put off stepping onto the housing ladder because they perceive it to be difficult or unaffordable.

In a bid to help, it is reaching out to potential first-time buyers with a £1,000 cashback offer. The incentive is in addition to its range of mortgages that require only a five per cent deposit, and its family assistance mortgages.

To purchase a property of £80,000, a first-time buyer would need a deposit of £4,000, and they would get £1,000 back when they completed.

The Cumberland’s area sales manager, David Stewart, said some people had a "mind block" which put them off becoming homeowners.

“Many people think it’s difficult to buy their first home, and there’s a common perception that it’s costly," he said.

"This is completely understandable. However, there is a lot of help available, from savings accounts that pay bonuses to mortgages that require just five per cent deposit. We have introduced our new range of £1,000 cashback mortgages, which we know will help considerably with the costs of buying your first home.”

He added: “It’s a lot easier to buy your first home than it has been but if you’ve never done it before you can’t be expected to know this. We do find that a lot of people come to us in rented accommodation and are surprised to find that it’s as expensive as a mortgage is.

“In Carlisle, for example, you can buy a two-bedroom terraced property for £60-70,000 so you are not looking at a massive deposit for those properties."

The Cumberland has also launched a webchat and Facebook Messenger helpline allowing first-time buyers to ask anything, with quick reply during its opening hours.

It is also encouraging more people to meet with their mortgage advisors as early as possible so they know what different schemes and options are available. It offers evening and weekend appointments, as well as a speedy 15-minute appointment.

David said: “I would always encourage people thinking of buying to meet one of our advisors for a chat. We can give them a helping hand and let them know exactly what they can and can’t do and what to look out for when they’re taking their first step onto the housing ladder.”