As you read this, the more adventurous amongst may be hitting the ski slopes during the February half term.

Not being a skier myself, my understanding of the first tentative steps to skiing heaven is by way of the “nursery slopes”. It is here that the complete novice finds his ski feet – learning all the basics before venturing forth to more challenging terrain.

And so it is with the upward property cycle of home ownership. Most folk start at the bottom, and slowly but surely trade up to bigger and better homes along the way. Right at the very bottom of course, is the first time buyer. A recent consumer confidence survey by leading property portal Rightmove, concluded that first-time buyers need ‘first-time sellers’.

In summary, the findings made for interesting reading: o Around one in four (24.3%) of all likely buyers over the next 12 months will be buying for the first time - up 1.4% on last quarter and 1.5% year-on-year.

o A new home-ownership hurdle emerges as just under a third of first-time buyers now cite finding a suitable property to buy as their single biggest concern, a jump of 6% on last quarter.

o Concerns over finding a suitable property driven in part by a ‘first-time seller’ shortage, with the number of terraces and flats fresh to market in Q4 of 2011 31% and 28% down respectively on Q3.

o Only one in 12 (8%) concerned about ability to meet monthly repayments highlighting frustrations of ‘trapped renters’ who have the means to pay a mortgage but not the means to access one.

Miles Shipside, director at Rightmove comments: “First-time buyer levels remain well below historic norm of 40%, but a slight increase of 1.4% on last quarter of those intending to buy for the first time offers some encouragement for the year ahead. The main issues of affordability and mortgage availability that have blighted first-time buyers over the last few years remain. Our research also provides evidence of an emerging new home-ownership challenge in the form of a lack of available properties that would typically be brought to market by first-time sellers.”

Put simply, without the upward momentum generated by a healthy first time buyer market, the wider property market will continue to huff and puff. One might venture to suggest that the property market remains on a proverbial slippery slope.

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