PROPERTY experts say demand from first-time buyers is helping to drive the housing market in Essex.

Balgores Property Group has released figures about the increase in the number of first-time buyers in Essex.

Over the last 12 months, Basildon has seen the largest hike in first time buyer property up by a massive 65 per cent, followed by Chelmsford up by 48 per cent, Hornchurch up by 41 per cent, Brentwood up by 24 per cent and both Romford and Upminster up by 20 per cent.

Nationally, the number of first-time buyers rose strongly last year, with 339,000 joining the housing ladder, up eight per cent compared with 2015. 

Martin Gibbon, a Fellow of the National Association of Estate Agents and Group Director of Balgores Property Group said cheaper loans and a range of new mortgage products are encouraging first time buyers to get on the property ladder.

He added: "Many first-time buyers have saved for a deposit over the last few years and it’s encouraging to see so many are choosing to live in Essex.

“Chelmsford is very attractive for first time buyers as it offers affordable property, with just a 35 minute train journey into Liverpool Street.

"Chelmsford also offers one of the best shopping centres in Essex and great restaurants, cafes and wine bars. The new £100 million redevelopment of the former Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) central campus in the heart of Chelmsford town centre site will bring 500 brand new homes, across a 13-storey tower.

"This will further boost demand from first time buyers, many of whom are moving out of London to Essex, attracted by the county’s cheaper proper prices and better lifestyle.

“Brentwood has seen first time buyer demand rise by 24 per cent year on year and this is partly due to Crossrail which will connect 40 stations, including Brentwood and Shenfield to Heathrow airport and Reading.

"It is hoped the line will create a 'golden corridor' providing a huge boost to the economies on the route and will bring new jobs and housing to Brentwood.”